Thursday, November 16, 2017

Top 10 Falliday Traditions

As originally published on North Phoenix Mom's Blog:

I love this time of year, especially in Phoenix, it's the time when most people actually want to be outside.  It's cool enough to actually touch the playground equipment, yet warm enough for jeans and a tee shirt.  It's sunny and breezy and its the beginning of the holidays.  I find myself most productive this time of year and often have lots of activities and projects planned with my kids, so I thought it would be a good time to share some of my favorite  Falliday traditions.

1. Hiking.  Once the weather here cools off enough, our first adventure is always to go hiking.  We love to get the kids outside and explore.  I used to be very uncomfortable outside, I didn't really enjoy camping all that much, I'd rather be inside doing something like shopping or eating, something less dirty.  And then I realized that if I didn't get my kids outside they would grow up feeling that way too. So now we go on hikes and camping trips so they're comfortable with nature.  And now that we've been doing it for so long I'm more comfortable outside and while I've always thought nature was beautiful now I appreciate it even more and find peace in the wild.  I'm always excited when we find a wild animal {I might even get more excited than my kids}, and there's just something special about reconnecting with nature, and the fall weather always reminds me to go outside!

2. Campfires.  Hand in hand with camping, especially in cooler weather, are campfires! The kids, of course, enjoy it because I always pack s'mores ingredients.  But I love the community that is created around a fire.  Like, this is how people lived, huddled around warmth, and stories were told and songs were sung.  I love bringing back a little of that community to our family whenever we travel with family and friends.  I hope my kids take away those memories and continue that tradition with their kids and their community.

3. Finding colorful leaves and collecting them to craft with.  You might think you've missed this because the colors have changed in Flagstaff, and Northern Arizona, but if you drive down Central from Northern to Camelback you might notice the leave here are just starting to change.  A perfect excuse to walk down the Central Corridor and find your favorite leaves.

4. Finding leaves leads me to my next favorite tradition, a Thanksgiving Day Scavenger Hunt!  You can find my current list here.  I'm still working on adding to it, but feel free to print it out and add to it with your kids.

5. Cooking with my kids on Thanksgiving day. We love to make this Sweet Potato Recipe together. My daughter loves to crush all the toppings and then help me perfectly arrange the marshmallows into little lines before baking it in the oven. I love this recipe because I prefer some variety in texture on my sweet potatoes.

This recipe is also easily modified for Vegans and Vegetarians, just swap out the traditional marshmallows for vegan ones {like these}, and use an egg substitute for the sweet potato mash.

6. Sharing what we're thankful for, in a new fun way.  I always try to get the family involved in sharing what we're thankful or grateful for, one of my favorite ways is to write on our pumpkins on our dinning room table.  This year I think I'll make the table cloth something everyone can draw on.

7.  Thanksgiving day games.  This year I'm going to add in butternut squash bowling! Have you seen heard of it?  You use the butternut squash like pins and knock them over with a pumpkin bowling ball!  I just know my kids are going to love it and I'm excited to craft with them using the print out from this blog.

8. Homemade Hot Apple Cider. I always make sure to have extra cinnamon sticks this time of year, cloves and oranges fresh from our tree.  My recipe is pretty simple.  I just mix a gallon of apple juice with 3 cinnamon sticks, 2 cardamom pods, 1 orange cut in half including the peels, a dozen cloves spiked into the peel of the oranges, and you could even add some ginger for and extra bold flavor.

9. Gluhwein.  I really fell in love with gluhwein on our last adventure in Germany, and now I want it for all my fall and winter holidays.  It's a mulled wine, spiced with all the traditional fall spices.  You can find a common recipe here.

10. Hanging up Holiday lights {we celebrate aspects of Chanukah, Winter Wolstice and Christmas}! I always make my family wait until after thanksgiving to set up our lights, I love being in the moment with each holiday, so I really like to wait until one holiday is complete before anticipating another.  I always remember helping my dad hang our lights and it's something I've always held special for me and my daughters.  Our girls love helping decide where we should put our lights and handing them to me as I hang them, it's just great to be outside with them and decorating. Decorating our home might be my favorite part of all the holidays!

just kidding.  Food. Food is my favorite part of the holidays, but decorating comes close.

What are your favorite traditions?  How do you include your kids in the Fallidays?  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

10 Ways to Prepare for a New Travel Destination

There are things I know about myself.  I know I like to travel.  I know I like to eat.  I know I like to take photos.  I know I like to be prepared. I know I like to plan ahead.  So when I think about places I want to see or areas I want to explore it's obvious for me, and I assume you, to do some research and prepare for what to expect in a new place. I often find myself day dreaming of a new faraway place with cocktails and fine food.  But how do I make that day dream into a reality? I have a few tricks for turning my day dreams into research and my research into inspiration to prepare for a new adventure in a new place {and sometimes for places I've already been, it works for that too!}...

1Pinterest! I know this is like a super obvious suggestion for someone familiar with the internet, but it's my jumping off point.  I always do a quick search on google and pin what I find and also search pinterest to see if my city or destination has something I should be aware of.  Lots of my destinations revolve around food, friends and culture, so I like to get a feel for the area before getting too specific with plans.  Plus, once I'm actually in the place I can open the app and go back to find those activities or restaurants if we're trying to think of something to do.

2. Once I've got eight thousand tabs open with ideas I slowly go through them! This is where I really put some energy.  I go though the blogs that are really helpful and pin those, I save whatever images mean something to me, not just repining whatever comes up, but the ones I actually am interested in.  I cull my tabs down to a 1/3 of what I originally thought might be helpful and I read the blog posts. I skim the images and I make a list of those {but more on that later}.

3. Most links on google and pinterest lead to blogs and bloggers, and bloggers {at least good ones} always have an Instagram. Instagram is a huge resource for travel inspiration, with location tags and hashtags you can really find out a lot about a place before ever stepping foot there.  When I find a blogger with helpful info I stalk their photos.  If their photos outside of their trip inspire me, I follow them, if not I just check the travel grams and then click the links to see the places they tagged.  If their food looks amazing and I see the name of the restaurant I follow the restaurant.  If they went on an awesome adventure or tour and they tag the company hosting the tour I follow the company, these aren't forever follows there are preparation follows.  So that weeks and months before I actually go somewhere, I'm following along with companies in that city, then when those companies post images and tag other interesting businesses or locations, I follow along and make notes of that.  Right now we're in the process of planning a trip to Hawaii and I'm following probably 30+ food trucks and restaurants and 20 more excursion companies and farmers markets.. So, when I check my feed not only am I seeing what's happening with friends and family in real life but also see what's happening in my upcoming destination; which also is like a little mid day pick me up, like here is this place I'm going to get to see in real life, soon! Instant moral booster, especially if you're working a job you maybe don't love, but love that it pays for your travel fix. {no, I don't know anyone doing that}.  A few of my favorite travel bloggers include The Bucket List FamilyOur Camp Life, and the Global Wolf Pack.

4. Saving for excursions.  Anyone who travels knows it can be pricey, hence lots of savings before a big trip is always a suggestion, but I'm talking about things you really want to do.  Like a boat or raft tour, or botanical garden tour, you know those things have admissions and fees so why not plan ahead NOW and set those expenses aside.  Sometimes it's hard for me to save and save into this black hole, but if I can be like 'no, I'm skipping my out to eat coffee and lunch today because I want to do that coffee tour in Kauai in 3 month and this will pay for that,' it's much easier.  I also set aside a separate travel account that has just travel spending money.  This way it doesn't get mixed in with my regular savings.  If you're a list maker like me you can keep track of every deposit and balance transfer so you know what you actually have in your account to spend on what.

5. Which I guess is a good time to talk about lists.  I love lists I mean it just makes so much sense to keep track of all the things I want/need/expect in one place, which is why I keep a paper planner in addition to my google calendar.  I keep all my lists in my bullet journal, and a huge part my travel includes lists of places I want to eat, places I'm staying while traveling, things I want to do in a new place, and general packing lists for myself and kids.  I bring my planner with me and not only use the lists but scribble down memories on each date and blank sheets to sort of journal the travel experience as well.

6. Go shopping, or don't.  I go back and fourth on this issue, but essentially, I try not to pack more than I need.  Yes, splurge on that swimsuit you've been eyeballing before heading to Costa Rica.  I totally support the idea of getting something you're super excited for before you travel, something you know you'll love wearing on your trip but also don't do ALL your shopping before you go, save some spending money to pick up new clothes or shoes while you're in your new destination.  Apparel is one of the most functional souvenirs you can acquire.  And no, I'm not talking about a 'I love Rocky Point' tee you picked up at the gas station.  I mean an authentic pair of handmade shoes from Italy, or handwoven bag in Guatemala, something about the craftsmanship of something made in the places I go makes me really happy, so I try to prepare for that a bit by setting aside spending money on functional 'souvenirs' and I like to think this helps artisans in the community in a relevant way.

7. Read a book.  Nope, Not a travel book but a literary book, I like historical fiction, but anything will do.  Sometimes reading stories that take place where I'm heading are super exciting.  Or maybe a book that was mostly written by an author in a famous city, like this is where they sat, this is the drink that drank while writing.  Or as an artist reading about artists from certain places knowing they painted in a certain park, those kinds of interpersonal connections we can make with a place are us bonding with our destination.  So, I like to do that before a big trip and if you don't finish it before you leave, you've got some in flight entertainment.

8. Speaking of in-flight entertainment.  I'm a mom. To two little girls.  Who get bored sitting still.  I highly suggest downloading a new season of a tv show they haven't watched before, or downloading audio books they haven't read before, or free games they haven't played before.  Bonus points if anything you download has to do with your destination.  This should be done a week or two in advance.  I've definitely sat in the airport connected to spotty wifi hoping an episode of Dora the Explorer would finish downloading before our boarding time, spoiler alert: it didn't. Do not make my same mistakes.  Also if you drink pack mini bottles because in fight cocktails are too expensive.

9.  Learn the language.  Or at least try to.  This one is so obvious, it's trite but I have to remind you when you go to a new place you should at least be able to greet the natives in a poor attempt at their language, they might correct you or ignore you, but nothing is worse than when I see Americans walk into European cafes and ramble off in English about needing table or bathroom.  At least give the common courtesy of asking in THEIR native language first, if they speak English, you're lucky, if not move on to calm hand gestures for your needs as opposed to getting frustrated.  They don't know your language. I wish I was over dramatizing what I'm talking about, but I've seen it and it's embarrassing.  Make the effort.  I love the Duolingo app and google translate (offline) has helped with conversations on numerous occasions.

10. Browse AirBnB.  You all know I love expedia.  I always have great experiences with them and I earn points when I book trips {which helps pay for smaller getaways throughout the year} but I like to look at the houses and apartments in the cities we go to because they're really cool, I don't want to miss out just because I'm on a budget sometimes, far enough out there are affordable airBnBs I'm also crushing hard on Kid & Coe which is a site of destinations for families, there is a range of prices and locations and everything is uber adorable.  Really just make sure to explore your options, I suggest booking your accommodations at least a year out for the best deal and widest variety of selection.

How do you prepare for your adventures? I'm always looking for more suggestions!

P.S.  Don't forget to check the weather! Nothing is worse than spending all your time and energy planning the prefect trip only to be miserable because you didn't bring the right jacket or shoes for the trip, being too hot or too cold can ruin a trip in the moment, yeah my photos will look good and I might even forget I was shivering or overheating in the image, but in the moment? Nah, I'd rather just be prepared.

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Top 10 Antique and Vintage Shops in Phoenix

I love living in Phoenix, we have so much good food and small businesses here that I really have a hard time deciding if or when we should move to Kauai, at least full time, because I know I'll miss so much here.  One of our favorite activities to do as a family is thrift or treasure hunt.  Husband always finds the manly section of the shop or vintage cookware, while I'm obsessed with furniture and home goods.  Here's a few of our favorite shops in Town if you're interested in starting your Treasure Hunting Adventure!

1. Sweet Repeats Boutique - Found in a strip mall of other antique shops this one is where I got my giant china cabinet and they offer lots of adorable handmade items as well.

2. Melrose Vintage - Shabby Chic - This one is pretty feminie but has lots of good finds, that's the fun of exploring, each shop offers something different.

3. Brass Armadillo - This one is a giant building with so many shops and aisles you can easily get lost for hours.  There's an extensive selection here.

4. Retro Ranch - I drive past this one everyday on my way to work and it's a fun stop along the Melrose District.

5. McAlpine's Soda Fountain and Antique Shop - The kids love this one because they get a fancy shake and then I go to the adjacent antique shop and look for vintage pyrex and they have a decent selection of clothes as well!  They also have a huge selection of patio tables which I always want to buy 10 of.

6. Zinnias at Melrose
We love Zinnias.  Husband was the first to shop there and came home raving about how cool it was.  Now I'm addicted and I go in there at least once a week just to check out their couch selection.  What can I say I've got a thing for couches.

7. Modern Manor  These Mid-century Modern treasures are  

8. Sweet Salvage- adorable shop located on Cave Creek

9 .White Dove Thrift Shoppe - I haven't been here yet but it's on my list of places to go so I thought I should share it, if you're looking for somewhere new too!

10. Antique Gatherings - Same with this one, I drive past it but haven't been in, have you? Is it a fun place with lots of unique items.

Where have you found amazing treasures at in Phoenix? I'm always on the hunt for more unique gifts and historic items, sometimes I think about all the hands that have held an object and the moments they're been present for, so interesting to think of the lives objects live.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

D.I.Y. Rosemary + Rose Smudge Sticks

As the weather cools down here in phoenix, it's a good time for garden projects and small harvests.  If you missed the full moon last night, that's okay you can always create rituals, not just on full or new moon.
I rarely buy flowers because it makes me so sad they are cut just to die they don't get a full life on their plant, but when someone gifts us flowers we make the most of it!  I hang them to dry to be used in various crafts but in this case, a soft rose not fully dried rose will allow for tighter rolling and wrapping.
As you can see these roses are sad but not totally dried.  This is the perfect stage for a rose smudge stick and I just pull the petals seperately to use.
Gather the bundle together and fold some rose petals around the bundle then wrap in string, the tighter the better.
It was also fun because my daughter learned how to tie knots for this project.  hello, fine motor skills.
Lay flat to dry and light under extreme care and supervision, allow to cool on ceramic or fire resistant surface after burning. 
And if you do make these near a full moon, set some intentions and place them under the moon light with crystals to charge all that lunar energy.