Little Sweet Ps

My friend and I have opened a little shop selling custom boutique children’s clothing.  Currently we are offering onesie bubble dresses and layettes.  We will soon be adding little rompers and other girly dresses.  We will also be launching an accessories line, and possibly a boys line in the future.  Check us out! :) IMG_5237

Havasupai, Grand Canyon

Last September, Mr. Mountain Man and I, along with my sister, made the ten mile trek to the beautiful Havasu Falls located in the southwest part of the Grand Canyon.  With the promise of beautiful blue water against a red rock backdrop, we set out with a week’s worth of supplies on our backs.  The trail began at Hualapai Hiltop, and traversed down through the canyon to the Supai Village.  Just beyond the village lay our destination, the campgrounds and all those gorgeous waterfalls.

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The trail wound down through the canyon, passing through wide gullies, under rocky ledges, and featured a surprising amount of green foliage.

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It took us about five hours to hike in, due to the fact that we were keeping a leisurely pace. I imagine the hike could be done in three and a half to four hours.

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Yes that is Mr. Mountain Man at the top of that pointy rock.  He’s a little bit crazy:)

We started our hike at about four o’clock in the morning in order to avoid hiking in high temperatures.

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The two rock formations overlooking the Supai village are known as “The Watchmen.”  The village consists of a general store, a cafe, a school, two churches, a clinic, a hotel, and the natives homes.  The village has all the modern conveniences like electricity, regular bathroom facilities, and and even fire hydrants.  Out at the campgrounds, there is no electricity, but there are convenient facilities that are actually mostly quite adequate.

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The scenery, oh the scenery!!  I have never been in a more beautiful place in all my life!  There are four different waterfalls; Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls, and Navaho Falls.  Beaver Falls is about four miles away, but the other three are quite close to the campgrounds.

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Navaho Falls

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The town had several extremely friendly dogs.  I got a kick out of seeing these dogs lying directly under this sign.  What do they expect, it’s not like the dogs can read:)

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We dined mostly on backpacking meals, but we did venture one day into the village for some lunch at the cafe and and ice cream bar.  The prices in the cafe and store were astronomical, however, when you consider the effort it takes to get supplies there, it’s more understandable.  We had done our homework on the trip, so we were prepared for the high prices.

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The beautiful Havasu Falls, I could’ve spend the whole four days just sitting here.

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Havasu Falls photographed from the trail above.

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Mooney Falls (It’s sort of hidden by the trees, but it is quite impressive.)

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Beautiful foliage on the floor of the canyon

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The trip was a smashing success!  I hiked almost 40 miles in four days (because of all the exploring we did).  The trip out was great, until I hit the last two miles.  Those switchbacks were excruciating!!  The trip is definitely doable for moderately active people, I would say even for kids above the age of eight or so.  For those who are not interested in the long backpacking experience, there is helicopter service to take you in and out (at about $80 each way).  We definitely plan to go back when our children are old enough to come along.  It was hands down, the best trip I’ve ever taken!!

This blog post has been written for SUYL Favorite Vacation Spots over at Kelly’s Korner.  Go check out all the other great destination ideas!

Arroz Con Pollo-Mercado Style

This recipe is bomb!  It was one of those days where I was just throwing things into a pot trying to come up with something quick for dinner.  My kids loved it. My husband loved it.  Success!

 

Rice:

2 Cups of rice

1/3 Stick of Butter

2 Cans of low sodium chicken broth

1/2 Cup of water

Generous amount of Garlic powder

Generous amount of onion flakes

 

 

Chicken:

4 Boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

Oil

Generous amount of salt and pepper

Generous amount of paprika

About a tablespoon of garlic

Generous amount of cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup of salsa (you can replace this for chopped onions and tomatoes)

 

Melt the butter in a pan with the rice.  Add in the chicken broth and water, then add the garlic powder and onion flakes.  Cook rice according to the directions.

 

Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a skillet with oil and set the burner to medium high.  Add the chicken, salt and pepper, paprika, and garlic.  Cook the chicken about 15 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Add the cilantro and salsa, cook for about 5 more minutes.

 

Mix the chicken mixture with the rice.  Serve with tortillas or tortilla chips.  You could also top with cheese, sour creme, salsa.

Why Handmade?

Making your own clothes may not be very economical at times, so why should someone even bother with the time and trouble of doing so?  It is so easy to run to the mall or department store for a little retail therapy, right?  Or is it?  Let’s face it, how many times can you say that you went to the store, and found an outfit that you loved and that fit you perfectly?

A Perfect Fit: When you are making your own clothes, you have control over the fit of the garment.  Possibly you have a shorter torso or arms, so you are always having to hem sleeves and deal with ill-fitting bodices.  If you are sewing your own clothes, you can make all the adjustments you need to get that great fit.  And great fit = great confidence!

Unique Style: Isn’t it cool to be different?  I sure like the idea of having a wardrobe that is all my own.  It makes a statement of who I am, not what current fashion or others say I am.  I like expressing myself in my own way and clothing is a great way to do this.  Having a unique style guarantees that you won’t be wearing all the same things that others are wearing.  No one else is going to have quite the same thing that you have because you made it!

Clothes That Compliment Each Other:  When you make your own clothes, you actually can get away with having less. (Only if you want to of course:) ) If you stick to color schemes that go together, you will be able to mix and match more things.  Now I’m not saying only make things in one or two colors.  Boring!!  What I mean is stick to a color palate that goes well with your skin tone and blends well with other things in your closet.  Maybe you like neutral colors best.  You could stick to colors and prints that are navy, tan, creme, blush, etc, and most all of your clothes could be mixed and matched.  That way you are not wearing the same blouse with the same skirt every. single. time!  Variety is good, no?

Getting Exactly What You Want: For me this is a big one!  I can’t even begin to say how many times I have bought something at the store only to change it up when I get it home.  A dress isn’t the length I want it to be, a shirt has a neckline that is too low, and on I could go.  Custom is just that, you get a custom garment that is (hopefully) exactly what you envisioned.

Better Quality:  I don’t even really need to explain this one.  Just go look over some of your “professional, store bought” clothing and see seams that are unraveling, buttons falling off, and hems coming undone.  Bottom line is that those clothes are being mass produced and spot checked for quality.  When you make something yourself, you can be sure you sewed that button on good and tight, and that zipper is not going to break!

More Variety: You aren’t always wearing the same ole thing.  I find myself basically shopping for the same kinds of clothing.  Sewing your own garments gets the creative juices flowing and it encourages you to branch out and try new things.  The result is more variety and tons of fun new things for you to wear!

Brine That Bird!

In my opinion, brined turkeys offer the best choice in flavor for Thanksgiving dinner.  I have eaten turkey many different ways – roasted, smoked, brined, and even deep fried.  To me, the brined turkey has the best moisture and flavor combination.  Although I do admit that a deep fried turkey is quite good as well!  This year I am using a recipe I got from my aunt’s boyfriend. He’s a chef and an extremely good cook.  Um, well duh!  I guess you need to be a good cook if you want to have job security as a chef:)

I don’t have any pictures since I haven’t actually started the process, but I will update this post over the next few days to show what I have been doing.

You will need:

A Turkey:) – Start with a thawed or mostly thawed turkey

A vessel (Andy’s words) large enough to fit the turkey in – You  will want something that is large enough to comfortably fit the bird in, but not so roomy that you have to make a ton of the brining solution. Ex: I’m using a turkey fryer pot.  You could use a small cooler.  A bathtub is probably too big:)

1 Gallon of Water

1 Cup of Salt

1/2 Cup of Sugar

Onions Chopped Into Large Chunks

Sliced Citrus – I’m using an orange, you could use lemons or something.

Herbs – I found a pack of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme. I think it was called “The Herbed Bird.”

Okay, so what you want to do is thaw, or mostly thaw your turkey in the refrigerator or using a water bath.  Remove the bag from the turkey.  Boil salt, sugar, and some of the onion in a gallon of water.  Just boil it long enough to dissolve the salt and sugar.  By the way, the sugar is to balance out the saltiness of the brine. Cool the brine.  Put the turkey into the vessel and pour the brine over it until the liquid completely covers it.  Soak or marinate your turkey for 24-48 hours. Be sure to put the brining turkey in the refrigerator while it soaks.  I do not have room, so I plan to keep my turkey in my canning shed with ice in it to keep it below the danger zone (45 degrees).  Take the turkey out of the liquid and give it a quick rinse and dry it off.  Peel back some of the skin and put some slices of butter underneath.  This will give flavor and promote a crispy skin.  Put the rest of the onion, some citrus slices, and herbs into the cavity of the turkey.  Roast the turkey in your usual way, until the thickest part reaches 165 degrees.  (I got a 20 pound turkey, so I will be probably looking at 3 1/2 hours on 375 degrees.)  Let the bird rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Mmmm!!!!!

Finishing Touches

Finding modest, stylish clothing at the mall or department stores is extremely difficult these days.  Modesty is extremely important to me, but I don’t want to walk around looking like a prairie lady either (no offense to prairie ladies of course).  I just want to look stylish and put together, while remaining true to my principles.  That being said, I have decided that I’m setting a goal for myself to have 80-90 percent of my clothing to be handmade.  I will be working for the next several months on creating a wardrobe that is stylish, unique, and modest.

Before you say, “What? That’s a lot of work,” remember that those prairie ladies:) made all their own clothes and they had a lot more tasks and chores to complete than I do!  If they did it, I sure can.  Now, just because things are handmade doesn’t mean they have to look that way. Or possible I should say, they don’t have to look ill fitting or unfinished.  Finishing a garment gives confidence to the person wearing it and can lengthen its life.  Let me give an example of little things that can be done to complete a handmade outfit to make it look store bought.

1.  Finished Seams:  If you take the time to serge your seams, it will greatly reduce fraying and strengthen the seams of the garment.  Plus it gives a more polished finished to the seams.  Of course, people can’t see the inside of the clothing, but  you can, and that’s important!

2.  Don’t skimp on interfacing: If the pattern calls for interfacing, make sure you use it.  Otherwise your collar, or whatever you are sewing, will be floppy and not lay right.  I know this is elementary, but I have skipped interfacing before because I forgot to buy it, and I have always regretted it!

3.  Lining, Facings, and Tacking: Take the time to line things properly, especially dresses.  Facings are so important because they usually are in prominent places that are easily seen, like the neckline.  Also, be sure to carefully tack things down so that they will lay properly and not become undone when the garment is washed.

4.  Add Your Own Special Touches:  Sign your work:)  Some people like to put tags or labels on their clothes.  I like to put a little ribbon bow in the things I make.  I think it adds a girly touch:)

I know that these points are so basic, but it’s a great reminder for all of us and it’s helpful to beginning seamstresses.

Happy Sewing!