Saturday, October 31, 2015

(Quicke{er} Shrunken Apple Heads!) Happy Halloween...


...to you and yours from me and mine!  I hope you all have a fun, safe day celebrating this beautiful time of year.  I just wanted to share with you a quick (to prep, at least) craft you can show your little ones and create with the older ones if you have a little down time today. 

Apple Shrunken Heads!  Yeah, this is about as scary as it gets around here.  In fact, mine just turned out looking like a cheerful elderly lady! 

Basically, you peel the area you want for your face, then peel a small hole on the back side for excess fluid to escape.  With a small knife, etch out a simple face (hollow eyes, leave  the nose the brows and nose highest, make the mouth wide or just a line)  Don't forget to scratch in a few of the deep wrinkles!  I only did a few on the forehead and at the corners of the eyes. 

Then pop them in the oven at a low temp until they have reached sufficient shrunkeness!  I did 275 for about 3 hours.


After they have cooled enough, you can take two apple seeds from another apple and push them in by their points for the eyes.  Then just set about as d├ęcor!
I made this off of old childhood memories, but there are several direction online.  Most involve setting the apples on a shelf to dry for several weeks like this beautiful one from Yet Another Mommy Blog.  But I also loved the idea of letting them float in a punch bowl of cider like this variation from GirlChef.  I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Happy creating!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Learning to Hike with the Littles



Can you believe October is almost over!?  I know I do this every month, but WOW!  We have just been enjoying every moment to the max and I think that makes time move at a quicker clip.  One of the highlights of this week was doing an apple u-pick across the road and getting a TON more apples!  Such a great time made even better by sharing the experience with friends (a few more photos on my Instagram growwildmychild).  I bring this up to let you know I’ve added (and will likely soon add more) recipes to my apple round up post from earlier this season including apple scones and apple sauce!
 

Our second great adventure happened this week when my beloved got an extra day off work and took us to the mountains!!!  Oh man, the mountains are my place.  Do you have somewhere that, just by being there, you can literally feel yourself recharging and being inspired!  I think it’s different for everyone, but for me it comes from the majesty of the mountains. 

And I think this little one and I are like minded
 
I think it’s important to get to these places as often as possible (maybe through mental imagery if not physically?) and that we need these moments of getting away to refocus and remember the Almighty Creator.  He knew we would need these wild spaces to discover!  I love how several times in the Bible (Matthew 5:8, 14:23, 15:29, 17:1) it mentions how even Jesus took time to go out into the wilderness alone or just with his closest friends.  Of all the things Jesus exemplified to us, I don’t think this seemingly small act should be overlooked.  Nature proclaims the glory of God!
 

Now, hiking with little wildlings may not always be such a rejuvenating experience.  What I’m about to write is mostly my learned-the-hard-way lessons!   But when we started having children, I began to wonder if our bush-whacking, mountain climbing, woods-wandering days were on hold until they were much older.  And to be honest, we did cut back for a bit (partially because of the Alaskan winters), but I’ve learned some ways to get out with the little ones in ways that everyone can have a wonderful time, do some exploring, soak up the grandeur, learn so many new things that we might not at home, and make memories together.
 

1.       Getting there:  before I had children, I just thought that all little ones would just fall asleep in the car.  Boy, was I wrong!  Both our children HATED car rides and would often scream. The.  Entire.  Drive…  Needless to say, this is quite stressful and does not make for  a refreshing day for anyone.  Honestly, we did everything to keep our car rides to a minimum those first years (life got better with forward facing car seats).  So, I’m just going to be real and let you know that we tried to find things that were as close as possible and went just because we knew we needed to!   There are many great resources to keep little ones entertained in the car (several in this list), but I think a CD of silly songs we put together was the best remedy for our babies.  And any snacks or drinks possible, especially if you’re doing any elevation change and ear-popping needs to happen.  I kept thinking they must get car sick and now I wonder if there’s any way to diffuse peppermint or something that might help with that?  Hm, just a thought.
 

2.       Tiny Legs:  we’ve been trying to keep to the trails that are pretty short (less than 3 miles) partially for their little legs trying to keep up and also just knowing ahead of time that we’re probably going to be carrying them for portions, depending on their ages.  If you go in expecting that, you can be better prepared.  Think about what shoes they wear, if they can ride in a back pack or carrier or just your arms?

 

3.       Realistic Hikes: you know your kids and what they’re going to be capable of.  Or if you’re not sure, start with shorter paths and work your way up.  Trail heads should all have a sign that the start that will give you an idea of the trail’s length and difficulty.  Or check out everytrail.com  It lists all the trails in your area and gives these details as well. 
 

4.       Permit Rests:  Depending on the age of your little ones, frequent rest (or just distraction) breaks should be expected.  When hiking alone, I tend to want to see the sights on the way, but basically keep moving and get to where I’m going.  I think this is where it is beneficial to have children with you because they make you stop and notice things differently.  Give yourself permission to take breaks with them and really observe things that they find interesting.  This is where so much spontaneous education can occur!  We found a bouncing branch and a tree root slide that never would have caught our attention had we been walking alone! =)
 

5.       Bare necessities: exploring can be hard work, especially if your legs are barely a foot long!  Don’t forget to pack a few snacks (for sustenance and incentive!) and plenty of water.  Dress in (or pack in) layers.  Even if it feels fine at the trailhead, some areas can be windy or cooler (near flowing water or ice?)  And a couple band-aids (yeah, wish I had brought those!)
 

6.       If cries happen, it’s okay.  It keeps the bears away.  We ended up reaching our first hike right about nap time and our little one had about 15 minutes of bellowing.  I figured she’d either fall asleep or get over it (it was one  of those cries) and she decided to keep on trucking and see one more waterfall!
 

Then just soak it all in and enjoy your time together!  Actually, on our way home, the kids were crashed in the back seat as the sun was setting and we came upon a waterfall just off the road.  Josh and I took turns running down the hill to experience it while the other waited with the tuckered tykes.  For all the joys of hiking with the littles, I must say, if you get a moment to yourself among a sight like this, TAKE IT!   There’s something powerful and calming about being alone in nature, even just for a minute.  Then go back to enjoying those with you and treasure the moments in your heart!
 

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55:12

Happy adventuring!
Happy Hiker!
 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Grown-Up Sweetie Slippers: Free Crochet Pattern


The Toddler Sweetie Slipper was such a hit in our house, it’s been necessary to adjust the pattern to an adult size! I love mine because they don’t slide around or slouch at the ankle, and they’re just thick and cozy!  When we were in Alaska, my sweet husband got me my silver fox and beaver pelt slippers that are SUPER warm and soft!  I wore the often up there, though they are a tad big.  But I just found out that I can wear these crocheted slippers inside them if, you know, it’s -20 and the power goes out.  My feet would still be warm.  These whip up really fast and are gender-neutral, so they make great gifts, too!   There may or may not be a few of my family members receiving these for Christmas =)

You may not choose to do it exactly like this and that’s GREAT!  This is just a good starting point, but feel free to adjust, tweak, and embellish to your heart’s content!  You may notice in some of my photos that one of the yarn colors will change seemingly sporadically.  Some of these are intentional (adding the fluffy navy around the cuff of the blue pair) and some are for the simple reason that I was using this project to whittle down my ever increasing yarn stash and it WORKED!  Using two yarn s at a time makes these slippers thick and warm, but it’s also a great stash buster for all those odd leftover pieces.  If you don’t mind a new color halfway down your foot.  Maybe you’ll chose to switch colors there intentionally!

Note: To get the texture I wanted, I only crocheted into the back loop of each space.  You could do a regular stitch, but may have to adjust the sizing a little.  This pattern fits a women's size 7-10

With two yarns of choice for foot:

Magic Ring of 6 sc.  Join with sl st and tighten ends.  Ch2


Round 2: 2dc in each st around.  Join with sl st.  Ch2

Round 3:  (dc in next sp, 2dc in next sp) around.  Join with sl st.  Ch2
This is about five stitches into round 4

Round 4: (dc in next 2 sp, 2 dc in next sp) around.  Join with sl st.  Ch2
Round 4 complete

Round 5: (dc in next 3 sp, 2 dc in next sp) aroud.  Join with sl st.  Ch2




Rounds 6-8: Dc in each sp around.  Join with sl st. Ch 2

Rounds 9: (dc in next 7, dc2tog) around.  Join with sl st.  ch 2

Rounds 10-11: Dc in each sp around.  Join with sl st. Ch 2 

*Note:  This is one place you can add a couple more rounds for individuals with particularly long feet.

Row 1:  Ch2 2, Dc in each of next 10 sp.  2Dc in next sp.  Dc in next 10 sp (should be about ¾ of the way around).  Turn.
Row 1 complete

Rows 2-7:  Ch2 2, Dc in each of next 10 sp.  2Dc in next sp.  Dc in each sp to end.  Turn.
Row 7 complete

*Note: This is another place you can add more rows for a larger size.

Turn the heel inside out and slip stitch seam down the back.  Turn right side out.
Still open  along the back before seam.  Excuse my little helper's arm =)


Still inside out after having finished the seam

With two yarns of choice for ankle:

Round 1: Join with sl st to top of heel in the back.  Ch 2.  Dc in each sp across to corner where the side meets the top of foot.  Dc2 tog.  Dc in each sp across top of foot.  DC 2 tog at opposite corner.  DC in each sp around ankle and sl st to join with start.  Ch2.

Round 2-3: (Dc in each of the next 5 sp.  2 Dc in next sp) around.  Join with sl st.  Ch2

Round 4: Dc in each sp around.  Join with sl st and finish off.
 

*Note: Rounds 3-4 are optional depending on how high you want your ankle.  If you want it higher, keep repeating round 4 until you’ve reached your desired height.



Done!  Well, you might want to start from the beginning again so you end up with a pair. =)  But you get the idea.  Now your toes will be ready for the cold (or holiday) season!  If you have any questions or notice any problems with the pattern, please shoot me a message.  Thanks!  Happy creating!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Spontaneous Adventures: Pros, Cons, and Tips


A friend and I were just laughing earlier this week about being spontaneous when it comes to planning outings.  Instead of specifically setting aside a time in the future to do a specific thing I’ve researched and want to do, I tend to just be going along with life and happen across a patch of time.  Time that maybe should be used doing something productive, but, sometimes we just need to get out there and adventure!  So I’ll say, “Hey!  Let’s go somewhere!” And I’ll either quickly google what’s close or pile the kids in the car and just see where the road takes us.
 
Usually this ends up with awesomeness.  But sometimes we strike out.

We had several strike outs this week as we traveled the central section of the Oregon Coast.  But also had a whole lot of awesome!  While my husband was working out there, we got to join up with him and at least share evenings together.  My parents came down for those couple days, too, and we had such a great time just being together, despite any surrounding circumstances. 

Pros:
1.       Unexpected Treasures: this is how I felt the first day of our trip when we had a little extra time and randomly pulled off at a botanical area.  It turned out that right off the highway was a cobra-lilly (pitcher plant) bog!  The concept of an insect-eating plant was so foreign to the little ones and our eldest thought these gorgeous plants a highlight of our trip!  We also accidently found a great rocky beach, Whale and marine life museum, and pirate village!

2.       Save time planning

3.       No pressure to keep a rigid schedule (Unless that’s your thing.  Then this might be a con!  =))
Eaten by a shark at the Whale Museum in Depoe Bay


Cons:

1.       Really, the main down-side and that is that sometimes things don’t work out.  We drove for miles down a road for there to be nothing there.  My parents nearly couldn’t find a campsite one night. The map apps for phones are great, but often have inaccurate information.  We didn’t make it to a couple places until after they had closed or simply ran out of time to cram all the sights in.
What was down that path?


2.       Wondering what you might have possibly missed

My advice from our experiences would be to plan out where you will be sleeping each night and make reservations if possible for multiple-day trips.  That takes the pressure off so you can just explore the day away.  Look for the brown signs (parks, natural or cultural areas) or quirky shops for a more unique experience.  If you have time, look up what might be around, or grab a tourist map once there.  If there’s something that’s really important for you to see, plan how and when it will fit into your adventures. Veer off the main highways as much as possible.  Don’t stress about what you might have missed and focus on all the good things that you got to experience as well as just the time together.  Even on our dud detours we saw things we’d never seen before and traveled roads we’d never been on before! 

In some ways I feel that spontaneous adventures are more difficult than in the past.  So much has been regulated with specific hours and tolls.  Certain places have become so popular you have to fight the crowds.  As far as camping, you can’t just pull off any old place to stop, it has to be designated and paid for.  But then, there are many benefits to exploring today.  Especially having the internet at our fingertips (so long as you have signal!) and well-marked interest areas.
Hollow log slide at the falls


Can I just share with you what we did end up doing?  Then if you ever get a chance to visit the area, you might remember some things you might want to check out!

1.       Sweet Creek Falls: about 10 miles off the highway on an ever narrowing road.  Perhaps a mile hike in to a lovely little falls.  There are many more surrounding, but we chose to only go to the one. 

2.       Darlingtonia Botanical Area: This was right off 101 and was a very short walk to the carnivorous plant bog.

3.       Bob Creek: small, sandy beach I loved because of how misty it was.  Rocky tide pools to the south were void of much sea life.

4.       Newport Pirate Village: We arrived in town too late for the aquarium, but this pirate village next door was right up our little ones’ alley.

5.       Newport Docks: Our son had been asking to see boats, and I knew we’d find some when I saw the docks sign past the aquarium.  So fun to explore, read ship names, and learn about the different types of boats.  Once (on a past adventure) the captain of a fishing boat let my husband and son on board to explore!  There are often many marine birds around, too.

6.       Echo Falls Detour: this was our major strike out.  Even when we circled back a couple times to see if we could find what the map was trying to show us, the falls (or any type of trailhead) was nowhere to be found.  So we just followed to road to 10 miles to see what was there.  Lovely drive in the fog.

7.       Depoe Bay Whale Museum:  I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed this!  We were the only ones there and the hostess totally catered to the little ones, asked them questions and really got them involved.

8.       Yaquina Head Light House and Tide Pool Beach: this is the only place we ended up going to that had a fee ($7 for a vehicle) to get in.  They have a nice interpretive center, but we moved through there rather quickly since it was nearing nap time.  Before we explored, we parked where we could look out over the ocean while we ate a quick lunch.  While we were sitting there, a pod of grey whales swam past! It was so amazing and the kids were so excited!  Our little guy was trying to tell everyone and exclaimed to me incredulously, “Mom!  All those people over there don’t even see the whales!  They’re not looking around!  They don’t even know what a wonderful thing they’re missing!”  I love it when he just gets it like that!

All this to say, I highly recommend the spontaneous exploration mentality!  I hope this will encourage you to give it a try sometime and take a chance that might result in you discovering a hidden treasure of a location!