A Birthday of Mine

We spent the last two weeks on vacation in Utah, really exotic, and I’m sure you are all jealous, but it was wonderful to see family and friends! We were especially there to celebrate The Grizzly Kid’s brother’s wedding, which was amazing, almost as lovely as his new bride. And I will post more on that wedding later, but we’re here today to talk about my birthday celebrations.

The day before my birthday my family went out to the lake with wave runners and kayaks and we spent the morning enjoying a cloudy, cool day in the perfect temperature water. People seem to think that Phoenix is a desolate wasteland, but just outside the city limits, this desert is stunning.




We saw our fair share of wildlife too. Like the graceful jackrabbit.


And the incredibly loud wild burros calling to each other.


Plus there were plenty of cousins to play with,


and no shortage of rocks to toss and put in trucks, which was Wallaby’s second favorite activity.


His absolute favorite was being in the kayak. We stuck to the shallows, although it looks farther out, and The Grizzly Kid was always just out of frame.


Wallaby was so at home on his perch.


We played for hours with the only annoyance being the bees, who were out in hordes, but a lemonade cup set away from our camp kept them mostly out of our fun.


The views are truly unique out here.



And then the day ended with one of the best rain storms that I have ever seen! It was coming down so hard for hours, this picture doesn’t do it justice.


As for my birthday, the day started out right with Wallaby coming to our bed at 4am for some cuddles/feet in the face, so we returned him to his bed, and the day really started at 6am. We went for a morning hike—to take advantage of the slightly cooler weather, which was lovely, although the waterfall didn’t have a drop coming down despite the buckets it rained the whole night before. Then, a morning present from The Grizzly Kid that was just so thoughtful!

Later some of us girls went shopping, where my mother truly spoiled me, and took us out to lunch—the way to my heart is Chinese food. Family came over for dinner, and my sweet sister-in-law made the most delicious coconut lime pie that I requested! Notice Wallaby’s and my intense focus on that pie—like mother like son.


AND let us not forget that the evening ended with seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which was amazing! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and The Grizzly Kid loved it even more on his second viewing. Overall, it was one of my best birthdays ever, complete with all of my favorite things, and turning 24 was not bad at all.

Heirloom Sewing

Heirloom sewing means, needlework, hand done, time intensive outfits usually for little girls and boy. It often looks old-fashioned, which I love. And my favorite part of heirloom sewing is the smocking, because that is what my mother has been doing for decades and what I am slowly learning to do. Last year I made a Scottie Dog romper for Wallaby and I am working on another smocking project, but yesterday for church Wallaby wore the cutest little smocked outfit done by my mother some 18 years ago for my youngest brother who is now 20.


And that is how this type of sewing earns the name heirloom, having been made almost two decades ago it still looks new, vintage, and timeless all at once. Plus Wallaby was very excited about the wheels (buttons) on his outfit.



I love the thought of any skill being handed down from one generation to the next. What skills have your parents shared with you? Speaking of, I still need to learn to make The Grizzly Kid’s grandmother’s rolls and holiday candy! Those are traditions I don’t want to lose.

Toddler Bag

I thought about labeling this post, Carry it Yourself, but that sounds a little harsh. What I mean to say is that Wallaby is 20 months old today! And as such an advanced little creature he can certainly pull some of his own weight. I mean, he picks up his toys, and puts his dishes in the sink (sometimes), so why am I still hauling a diaper bag? Our little toddler doesn’t need much on little trips, a diaper, wipes, and water bottle (an Arizonan necessity), and maybe a snack for a longer trips. Sometimes I shove these things in my purse, but I hate when a diaper falls out while I am trying to find my wallet.

The solution to all our problems presented itself by way of his own little backpack! And boy did I start out with grand plans, like this adorable bag, but decided to scale way back, since I wanted it ready before our upcoming trip to Utah. So instead I used this super simple tutorial on making a drawstring bag, and it only took 15 minutes to whip it up and Wallaby LOVES it so win, win!.



Can you guess which parent spotted this fabric at the store while I was looking for dress material? And once Wallaby saw it he got excited pointing at R2-D2 and said beep, boop, beep, boo, and it was decided.

And now he puts everything in it, like legos




and can even put it on himself! If you count this attempt


Overall it’s a good fit, took less than half a yard of fabric to make and will work until I can make the other backpack. Besides, who needs pants when you are wearing a backpack?



Independence Day cont.


Although it poured for hours the night before, which was unexpected in this desert, it was sunny the day of the Fourth but also so very muggy, making it feel hotter than ever. To keep us cool we had a large red ice bucket of waterbottles, and we tried out this red, blue, and white drink that felt more like a science experiment, but it works! However, it’s not a real party in AZ without water playing a role, so I had graciously filled a cooler with water balloons earlier in the day and had it ready, plus we pulled out the slip n’ slide for the little ones as our after dinner activity.



And with the kids outside we sent out their dessert to keep them occupied while they dried off. I got the idea to roll the ice cream sandwiches in sprinkles from here and using mini sandwiches was perfect for the little hands.



And with the kids’ dessert taken care of, the adults were ready to delve into these beauties.


I issued the challenge earlier in the week for all who dared compete that there would be a pie contest, with a blue ribbon up for grabs. We ended up with a blueberry, lemon meringue, peach, crack pie, and coconut cream. A wide selection that we cut into tiny slivers so we could try them all and cast our vote.


And they were all delicious, making it terribly difficult to vote for just one. In the end the the lemon meringue won first, crack pie (which reminded me of pecan pie, sans pecans), took second and the other three pies tied for third, so they were clearly all loved. Here were the ribbons I whipped together last minute after I couldn’t find any to buy.


With the pie settling in our stomachs we sent the kids back outside to try their hands at pinata smashing (a certain niece had a birthday on the first). Even Wallaby got in on the action with some help. Such concentration. Maybe he’s trying to activate his laser eyes?



And no one was to be left out of the spoils. This is always my favorite shot of any pinata. There are no boundaries when candy is involved.


Then there was a little lull where some of the younger kids were put to bed, Wallaby included, before were pulled out the sparklers.


Isn’t that just the best printable from here? We saved a few sparklers for Walt, but haven’t tried them with him yet, and while he slept the other kids went to town. That included The Grizzly Kid.



There were even a few fireworks in the backyard to end the day with.


It was a very full and lovely day. And overall, with the help of the internet, it turned out to be a great success. I hope your day was memorable as well! And a grand thank you to those who have and do serve to keep our country free.

Party Like it’s Independence Day

(Found this 4th of July printable here)

There several things that set Arizona apart, especially in the summer, the most obvious being that 110 degrees is the average temperature. Another is that people leave the valley in droves in the month of July until school starts again in early August—church, which is usually packed to the back, was rather empty yesterday. A casualty of this is that a lot of the common summer festivities simply don’t happen and if they do happen you’d have to be insane to sit in 111 degree weather for 3 hours to watch a parade, or even lay out in the 95 degree weather to watch the late fireworks.

So this year I was set to make our own fun. I got to work planning our own family carnival/fair, and with the help of my sister it came together nicely. With 12 nieces and nephews here to entertain we can definitely create our own party and they enthusiastically try everything, which makes even simple games exciting.  We set up simple games like ring toss, can bowling, and bean bag toss.


We had kettlecorn set up to munch on while playing games. I used this pattern to make the paper cones and then covered cereal boxes with wrapping paper and cut out holes to make the little stands.


This was Wallaby’s perch, protector of the popcorn, until all the cousins showed up.


The photo booth that we set up using this backdrop and props was an especially big hit with the kids. They made us laugh because they were so focused on getting the props in the right place that they kept forgetting to smile.


Still, they were all adorable.


Wallaby and I even got in on the action. My oldest niece manned the face painting station since she has more artistic talent than the rest of us. I made the face paint using this super simple mixture and it turned out great. As shown here.


Wallaby wiped the A off his cheek before it got a chance to dry. And as for the remainder of the festivities I will save those for a second post, this one is getting out of hand.

The Perfect Summer Dress


Add a cap sleeve and this is my ideal summer dress. Boden is always right on the money with their clothes, but especially with their dresses! Sadly, even on sale at $118 it  is outside my dress budget. So as anyone with a budget will tell you, you either learn to do without or you make it on your own.

I recently discovered a new to me online fabric source—Fashion Fabrics Club and quickly and deeply fell in love with this blue and white stripe fabric (and loads of other fabrics that were begging me to take them in and give them a purpose in life). This stripe screams summertime, with its colors and the fact that it is lightweight. Not to mention, those prices! I grabbed it while on sale at $3.95/yard. I’ll let you know how the quality is once it arrives—I ordered it on Friday and have been checking the mail every minute since.

white stripe shirting


So with the inspiration and the fabric on the way, I’m only wishing I could have it ready for the 4th of July! But I do have other fun plans for that day.

California Vacation–The Wedding!

Finally, the culmination of our vacation, the main reason for putting up with the California traffic—the wedding! My sister Kelly and I have a long standing relationship, after all she’s been trying to shake me off since she was 14 months old and I was born. Just kidding, she loves me most of all—like that one time I was mad at her and I flung a giant spoonful of pink jello salad at her—who wouldn’t love that. I don’t get mad easily or often, but when I do the jello flies. There was the time in high school where we would walk past each other in the halls not saying a word. And then there was the time she left for college and I started to miss her. Like all sisters we’ve had our ups and downs—I fought with her more than any of my other 8 siblings and I learned more from her too.

I’m ever so glad that she found Josh, who can keep up with her high-spirited, adventurous self.  I wouldn’t have missed this day for all the world. The lovely couple were married in the San Diego Temple, which looks like a fairy tale castle.


The ceremony inside was lovely and then we came out to await the bride and groom. And kept the children happy by any means necessary. For Wallaby that meant getting to play photographer.


And being swung  around. I love his face in this picture!


Then Kelly and Josh arrived looking all shiny and new, with that perfect look of love.


Just look at my beautiful big sister!


We took all the classic photos. Including this sibling photo—sadly we are missing Jaclyn and Lewis, they fit in right between me and Claire on the end, and are away serving missions in Idaho and Mexico, respectively. Which seems to always happen—Kelly was in the Philippines when I got married. Can you see the family resemblance?



This is my immediate family. With 6 of the 10 kids now married, we still have room to grow.



We even got all 14 nieces and nephews together and mostly happy. I hurriedly shoved skittles in the mouths of those screaming the loudest, and it worked for some—note the non-wailing Wallaby.


And it worked for a while, until they were done and walked out.


But they all got their pay out at the end of the trying ordeal.


After the temple photos we headed down to La Jolla beach, where our favorite cousins had once again come to the rescue by going early and saving us the perfect spot sheltered amid the rocks, where we had our luncheon. And let me tell you, even simple affairs require a lot of planning, especially when you are planning from hundreds of miles away. My mother and I mostly decided the menu, with the input of the Bride of course, and the Groom who requested Key Lime Pie, the best of all choices. The Grizzly Kid and I rushed to the beach where he watched Walt while Emilee and I set up the luncheon and food. There was fried chicken, croissant sandwiches, watermelon (4 of them which Emilee and I balled the night before—have I mentioned that she is the best yet?), coleslaw, white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, and coconut chocolate chunk sea salt cookies (which my sister Leslie and I made earlier in the weekend and froze until the big day—both recipes were amazing!), key lime cupcakes, and key lime pie. Pretty much all the best picnic on the beach foods.


That is where I spent the afternoon, setting up and restocking food, which is fine by me as I like to play at party planner. See those rose balls behind me? Those were made using this tutorial which is easy, but what she doesn’t mention is the time it takes! HOURS to make three of them, but I was really happy with how they turned out and the extra touch it gave the set up.


I wish a better picture had been taken to show the set up of the food, but I didn’t get the chance. I do love that this picture shows all the red heels that got placed on the rocks, and how the beach towels came out, for there was no keeping the kiddos from the waves. By the end of the afternoon everyone was slightly sun burnt and rather sandy, but had had a lovely time celebrating these two.


Who ran around getting pictures taken on the beach while the rest of us ate merrily without them, but these photos were worth their sacrifice, I think.






(Photo credit—all the good photos—by Nick Sorensen who was fun to work with and although based in Arizona, is clearly willing to travel some.)