Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting Stitchy With It

I've been nesting. No. I'm not knocked up. I just kinda feel like it. I don't want to leave the house and have been perfectly happy holed up inside with the kids doing all the things I never seem to have the time to do. We have been quite content these past couple of weeks just following along in our daily rhythm. I think it may be that my eldest starts kindergarten in three short weeks and will be celebrating her fifth birthday next weekend. We're baking, sewing, coloring, playing and reading... squeezing in as much as I can before my daughter begins her formal schooling career and I am I left wondering how time has passed me by so quickly.

In an effort to preserve what remains of my daughter's babyhood, I have been holding on to an abnormally large amount of her artwork. Each child has an art line in their room, consisting of a ribbon and a few clothespins. This is the spot reserved for the most special and intricate pieces. The fridge is covered of course. I even have some of their work framed and incorporated into the decor. And, for each child, I have purchased an accordion type folder to file away the best of the best, categorized by age and already, the folders are bulging.  I can't bear to put them in the recycling bin...and even if I could, some little hands would discover it there and pull it out claiming that is "NOT recycling Mommy!" Either I need to get off this sappy, sentimental streak or I need to come up with another way to preserve my children's creative endeavors.

Way back in May, K and I made some portrait bookmarks for her grandmother's Mother's Day gifts. They were a big hit. K drew a portrait of each grandmother, wrote their names, and I embroidered over her picture. J picked the floss color and the ribbons, and I sewed them together. Combined with a gift card to a local bookstore, I was pleased as punch with how they turned out. And this weekend, as I puzzled over how to make something useful and lasting out of the plethora of artwork being produced on a daily basis, I remembered how well loved K's portraits were. I glanced at my nightstand to see stack of books, places held with old lottery tickets, a gum wrapper and even a dried up wipe. Why not use some of her pictures to make bookmarks for our household?

K was more than happy to oblige. The basic pattern can found in Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule.We started with portraits again. One of me and one of her Daddy of course. I'm planning to let her draw other types of pictures too, like the rainbows and flowers she's so fond of. And our cat. I love the way she draws our cat.Another idea would be to embroider an entire drawing...maybe make a wall hanging or a pillow. Of course I'll hang on to as much paper as I can, but these little bits of artistic flair will remind me, a long time from now, just how innocent my children once were. Every time I mark my place in my book, my little ones will be smiling back up at me from it's pages.

How do you handle the daily onslaught of masterpieces? Have you found any new and creative ways to save or display them?


P.S. These picture are blurry. Ever since we came home from the beach our camera is having trouble focusing. It's a Canon Rebel. Any of you photogs have any advice?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

OH! Now It All Makes Sense!

A friend of mine sent this to me....damn that cryhole.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dusty, Musty and a Little Funky

If you live in the U.S. and have watched any amount of news in the past couple of weeks, there is a pretty good chance you may have seen photos or video of the enormous dust storms, or "haboobs" as they've been calling them, that have swallowed us up twice in the past two weeks. Haboobs are actually quite common in the desert but rarely do we see ones of such epic proportions. One of the storms produced a wall of dust nearly 60 miles wide and stretched 3,000 feet up into the sky. Wind gusts varied between 60 and 80 miles per hour within the cloud. Visibility dwindled to zero. The airport closed. The freeways slowed to a crawl. Thousands lost power. And every inch of my house was covered in fine layer of grit.

Phoenix metro getting gobbled by a sand monster.
Dust, heat, lack of precipitation....aren't desert summers fun?? It's for these very reasons we hole up in the house from June to September, only escaping when absolutely neccessary. We are serious about keeping the cool in, and the dusty heat out. Blinds and curtains stay shut, fans stay on, and we live in our summery semi-darkness I like to call "cave light." But just like a real cave, our house tends to get a bit musty in the summer time. Opening the windows to air things out is just not feasible this time of year. I have to come up with other options for freshen up and get rid of everyday odors.

Candles are good. I'm a candle girl. But because I'm a candle girl, I burn through them like crazy and can't always afford to replace them. Candles, especially the eco friendly ones, aren't cheap. I've also tried simmering yummy things in a pot to scent my home, but I forgot about it and scorched the pot so badly I had to throw it away. Chemical plug-ins and freshners work too. They aren't my favorite options (who knows what's really in them) and most require expensive refills. So how do you un-stinkify your pad without breaking the bank or depleting the ozone?

You make your own air freshener of course! Here's the recipe that works for me:

Cave Stink Eradicator

1 cup water
1 cup vodka
Essential oils – about 15-20 drops of lavender and 12-15 drops of lemon or whatever you fancy
One empty refillable spray bottle

Mix, swirl, and spray! It's that easy. Cave stink be gone!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Go Green or Go Broke

I should never be allowed to answer the phone. About a week ago I received a sales call. You know the ones. The kind where you answer one question and before you know it you've agreed to buy God knows what at some ridiculous price and you hang up wondering what the hell happened. Yeah. Like that. Only this time, I managed to agree to let a solar consultant come into my home and help us "Go Green Now!" with no money out of pocket. Riiiiiiiight.

So the consultant came. He explained the products. He showed us a badly edited video about the company. Hauled a fish tank stuffed with insulation into my kitchen to demonstrate what radiant heat can do. He went over all the state and federal incentives for making energy efficient upgrades to your home. What I thought would be a 45 minute product demo turned into a two and a half hour ordeal. Not only did it suck up an evening but the guy kept asking for water and used my bathroom....twice.

Needless to say, we did NOT buy any of their products. I really did want a solar water heater though, which was one of the three things he was trying to sell, but even with his  "killer deals" the system was out of our price range. But all was not lost. He made some other suggestions on how to green up the homestead without making a big investment.

  • Insulate Our Freezers-We have two chest freezers in the garage. Yes, it would be more energy efficient not have them at all but we butcher most of our own meat and we need them. He showed us a thermal insulating material that can be bought at most home improvement stores. It looks kind of like those silver sun shades you put up in your cars. Anyhoo, you just wrap it around your freezer and secure it with duct tape.

  • Insulate the Garage Door- You can use the same material on the back of the garage door to keep out radiant heat. Simply cut it to fit the panels, screw into the metal and you can lower the temperature in the garage by nearly 10 degrees.
  • Heat Barrier in the Attic-This was actually one of the services the consultant was pedaling. Basically, they go up in the attic and staple gun a radiant heat barrier to the underside of the roof. It reflects the heatout of the house in the summer, and reflects is back down toward the home in the winter. The material looks a bit like a fancy  aluminum foil with little holes for ventilation. They wanted $400 for the job. We can do it for $150. When summer is over and it's not 130 degrees (this is not an really is upwards of 130 degrees in our attic) the hubby is crawling on up with a staple gun and going to town.

Not only are these solutions inexpensive, they are innovative as well. Never in a million years would have thought to wrap my freezers in metallic bubble wrap. The "green" industry is just like all the others....they gotta make money. Sure. It would be fantastic to have a complete photovoltaic system, a solar water heater, low E windows and so on a so forth. But it's nice to know you don't have to spend a fortune to lower your utilities and help the planet in the process.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011


It's mid July and everything in the garden is officially dead. Well, okay, not everything. The tomato plants are still trying to pump out some fruit and for some reason or other, our eggplant is especially prolific. There are a few scraggly looking carrots and a head of red sail lettuce trying to eke out an existence in the shade of our pomegranate tree. We have peppers, most of which are too hot to eat but will be tasty after I pickle them. I suppose there is still life out there. But as I skim other blogs whose summer gardens are drowning in prosperity, I can't help but feel a tad envious. While the rest of the country is really just starting to enjoy the summer bounty, the desert sun has baked our garden into oblivion.

The last of the tomatoes
This is of course is normal for this time of year. We plant when everyone else is still frozen and snow covered but our summer season ends when everyone else's is just beginning. However, we do get to garden year round. Our harvest season may be a little wonky compared to everyone else's but at least we get to garden nine months out of the year!

As I mourn for my scorched squash plants, I am thinking ahead to  the fall. We can plant our winter garden in mid September, sometimes earlier depending on the heat. Since we started this whole garden adventure, we have been planting a mix of seeds and established plants. This winter, we want to go hard core: start it all from seed. We want to start them inside, give them a chance to grow in the relative comfort of our garage, and then transplant them when the time comes. To ensure they are hardy enough for life in the great outdoors, we should have our seeds started by......yesterday. Oops!

Our "its easy, you can't fail!" starter system
Well, we've got all the stuff. The seeds. The planters. The water. The sun. The only thing left to do is plant the little suckers. We've had good intentions in the past but usually ended up at the local nursery buying up their starts. But not this year. Oh no. This year it's on....


Monday, July 11, 2011

Here, There, and Everywhere!

Whoa! Sorry to have been away for so long my dear friends. We have been going non stop since the last week of June. We've been all over the place but finally,we have landed back at home. So as I dig out from the mountain of vacation laundry and slowly dive back into our daily rhythms, here are a few picture of what we've been up to.

See you soon!