Wednesday, July 30, 2014

while we were away...

Hello! Long time!
You've heard the saying "life is what happens while you're looking at your smartphone." It also happens when you're plugged in to the wall staring at a glowing screen. We have been so consumed in summer this year--real life--that I haven't had the desire to spend a lot of time around here in internet land....

I wanted to stop by and share a little of what we've been up to....but I hope you're also out enjoying your summer and not spending too much time indoors. If you're itching for a road trip, I have one that should be on the top of your list...
wild wild west // the little red house
A few weeks ago, we loaded up a tent, a cooler full of food, a few tie-dyed shirts--and we hit the road. The first night was spent deep in the desert with exactly 1 bazilliongillion stars shining overhead. We woke with the sun and continued south. 
wild wild west // the little red house
wild wild west // the little red house
We drove through the early morning heat to Monument Valley. 
Monument Valley is a 17 mile dirt loop through the park--all on reservation land (it costs $20 to get in). Hiking isn't allowed, and there are paid guided tours that take you deeper into the area, but we opted for the self tour. It is an incredible little corner of the earth, and while my feet ached to get out and explore more, the drive was beautiful and well worth it.
wild wild west // the little red housewild wild west // the little red housemeswild wild west // the little red house11 copymesa10 cowild wild west // the little red housepy
We passed through Four Corners Monument  (worth skipping if you want my honest opinion), found a Colorado river to play in and beat the heat, and headed to our next campsite in Mesa Verde National Park. The campground was HUGE and I expected to be camping on top of our neighbors, but we found a site in the trees and felt like we had the place to ourselves. 
oh--and no one does camp hair better than these two.
wild wild west // the little red house
Mesa Verde is a must see place--you get to visit ancient Anasazi dwellings from the 1200s. They lived within the cliff walls because it gave them easy access to water--there are springs that come through the rocks. They farmed on top of the Mesa--scaling the walls of their homes to their crops up top. The two largest dwellings--Cliff Palace and Balcony House you take a guided tour through, and there are several other dwellings you can explore on your own. There is such a reverence and peace within the walls of these rooms. I wish I could have spent an entire day here thinking about those that lived so long ago. 
wild wild west // the little red housewild wild west // the little red housewild wild west // the little red housewild wild west // the little red housewild wild west // the little red house
We wanted to pack light since we were changing campsites each day (we did stay in Mesa Verde two nights). We wanted quick meals so we could hurry out in the morning and get a quick start to our day. 
Breakfast Ideas:
-oatmeal! before you leave home mix up a big bag of oats, dried fruit, nuts, coconut, hemp and chia seeds, chocolate chips, brown sugar--the possibilities are endless. Boil some water in the morning and you have a quick and filling breakfast. If you're feeling fancy bring some almond milk to splash in.
-bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon.
Lunch Ideas:
-whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter/honey (mix them together before you leave home to save on time/space) and dried fruit. If you're on the go at lunch time wrap these in foil and they hold up pretty well in a pack. 
-jerky, trailmix, granola bars. 
Dinner Ideas:
We love Aidell's Sausages with all the fixins!
For a suuuuuuper fast dinner when you are exhausted after a long day, it's hard to beat some "just add water" soup. I like the Dr. McDougall's brand--they are tasty and they pack up easily.
I pack a little fruit/veg in the cooler, and then we look for small farmer's markets wherever we are traveling.
wild wild west // the little red house
helpful links:
Jetboil  so small and light to pack, and boils your water in a flash without the need of a fire.
Kind Bars real, whole food bars that taste awesome.
Larabars fruits and nuts packed into a little bar
Epic Bars--these are a recent find--I'll tell you more about them soon!
Krave Jerky the BEST jerky
Kids Camelbak  a must have. 
Kids Keens the perfect summer shoe for your kiddos
Patagonia Trucker Hats  our favorite

more road trip to come....

to keep up when I'm away from here come find me on Instagram @_sheenarae

Monday, June 30, 2014

summer uniforms

how to tie dye // the little red house
It's that time of year! The time we make their summer uniforms! 
These two LIVE in their tie-dye all summer long. They play/camp/sleep/roll in the dirt/swim/hike/you name it in these shirts. And they really are the perfect summer shirt--they hide every popsicle drip/s'more smear/mud one knows!

Two years ago we tie dyed for the first time--you can see my basic tutorial HERE. We have upped our game a little since then and this year we played around with some new designs.

Before/After Dying 
-Your shirts should be damp. I always throw them in a wash cycle so all the extra water is spun out.
-After you're done dying, wrap your shirts in plastic wrap and let sit somewhere they won't dry out
(I recommend 24 hours).
-Unwrap them, cut the rubber bands off, and give them a quick rinse in the tub to get some of the excess dye out.
-Put your washer on it's largest setting (warm water) and a little bit of laundry soap. (Keep separate from your other laundry!). Wash and dry as you normally would.
You are READY!

You can make so many unique designs with just two basic techniques
Here's what we came up with:
To make a spiral you pinch the shirt (anywhere!) and turn turn turn until it's all wrapped up. You then section it off with 3 rubber bands so you have SIX sections--like six pieces of pie. You'll then color each section (both sides) with a different color of dye.
how to tie dye // the little red house
Pick up your shirt and pinch it (so you get the back side too). For a rainbow you'll pinch from the bottom, for a regular bullseye you'll pinch from the middle (see THIS tutorial), and for more than one bullseye you'll make several "arms" coming out. Section off with as many colors as you like (make sure the rubber bands are tight!) 
how to tie dye // the little red house
TIP: Use Gloves!!
TIP: Use LOTS of dye. Saturate the fabric all the way through so your colors come out bold.
TIP: The box always says let sit 6 hours--the colors won't be as intense if you do it this long. We let ours sit 24 hours (it's so hard waiting to unwrap! but worth it)
TIP: Make your rubber bands as tight as you absolutely can! 
TIP: Use an old white shirt. Lucy had to have a white shirt for a program at school and it only took a few times wearing it before it was dotted with stains and we dyed right over it!
TIP: Mix colors right on the shirt. There are kits with 10 or more colors, but they usually cost more. Our kit this time didn't have orange, so I just put red AND yellow on the same section.
TIP: Let kids be kids! If you see my kids this summer, they will most likely be in one of these shirts. Would I like them to wear something else sometime? Yes. But really, who cares! As long as they are happy. In the past few years, thanks to Mr. Internet, kids seemed to have become more of an accessory for mom--always perfectly put together and ready for a photo op. Come on mom--let loose a little bit and let your kids be comfortable and happy this summer. 
how to tie dye // the little red house
Patriotic Spiral. 
He wanted to add a little purple in with the red and blue. 
Leave one section white in your spiral.
how to tie dye // the little red house
She wanted blue above and underneath her "rainbow". I think leaving it white would be cute too.
how to tie dye // the little red house
Side Spiral.
Instead of twisting for the spiral right in the middle of the shirt, we went up top and to the side for a new design.
how to tie dye // the little red house
Instead of pinching in just one spot--he picked four!
how to tie dye // the little red house
You can find tie dye kits at any craft store.
I've used these two and they were both great:
Jacquard Tie Dye Kit
 Tulip Tie Dye Kit
I liked the Tulip because it came with dye IN the bottles, and then an extra dye packet of each color. Unless you are dying bunches of shirts and using up all the dye at once, I've found that after it's mixed, it doesn't keep well. I tried to use it a month later and the colors were very faded. So I liked that the dye came divided up so we could save it for later.

Happy Tie Dying!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Essentials!

The Little Red House Essentials

I have left you hanging for way too long! 
My Little Red House Essentials list is finally up to date for summer! 
Come check out my favorite (tried and true!) gear. 
Everything from running, favorite beauty products, and just day to day must haves. 
Take a look HERE

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

life lessons

alternate title: very much a soap box
montana // the little red house
Last week I loaded up the kids in the car and made the journey up to Montana.....aaaahhhh.....home sweet home. Robby had to stay back for work (borrrrrrring), but I decided to go anyway--you can't NOT go to Montana in the summer time.
The road home is a long one--a straight shot through the potato fields of Idaho, a windy ride through the plains, over the mountains, [insert summer rain storm], then plains again [watch out for deer!]....and then I'm home.
I love to drive--it's a time to enjoy the changing scenery and familiar paths, and an opportunity to sift through all the thoughts I am constantly thinking, yet never find enough time to give them the attention they need.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about these two tiny humans Robby and I are raising. Within the last little while they have quickly grown from my babies, into amazing little people who are smart and active and funny and always eager to learn something new. I don't know how I was so blessed to be chosen to be their keeper, but I am trying not to take the job lightly. It is up to ME as their mother to fill their childhood with good memories, and also teach them important lessons about life.

I think sometimes our technology driven "look-at-me-NOW" world distracts from what is actually important, because
we may be more concerned with how we appear to be, and don't concentrate enough on who we really ARE
I used worry that too many kids would have too many memories of mom and dad glued to their phone, but then I wonder if the kids are even paying attention--they too are locked and focused on some sort of glowing screen.

Why is this our world? 
Contradictory, I realize, since I type this atop my lap from my own glowing box, and you are reading it from yours. But where is the balance? We seem to be leaning heavier and heavier towards the technology side of the scale, and it's eating up our kids' time to "just be kids".

a-a-hem, so where were we going with this?
We were going to Montana.
How this all got started was every time I'm home I reminisce about my own "good old days", and all the fun that was had. My sister and I shared memories and stories and we even visited one of our old stomping grounds with our grandma and grandpa. (side note: it's so fun visiting your favorite childhood places with your OWN kids.)
I've decided that summer is the absolute best time to learn about all the finer things in life. We are unscheduled, we play, we have the time to do the things that make us most happy.

So I'm going to share our life lessons with YOU. 
Maybe you can apply them to your life--even if you don't have children--these are sure to fill your summer with good times and memories.
I may share them a handful at a time, maybe we will focus on just one for a week, but you are welcome to read and share your own ideas (I've learned that you guys out there in cyber world have the BEST ideas!)
You will find us using our imaginations, exploring, spending quality time together, and doing most of these things away from electrical outlets and cell phone service.

Here we go:

life lesson #1
eat ice cream. 
big dipper ice cream // the little red house
of COURSE this is the first life lesson--and truly, 
one of life's most important. 
We love ice cream. As a family we seek out the BEST ice cream little towns have to offer as we travel the west. We want freshly made, unique flavors, and the smell of warm waffle cones floating through the air (the smell, not the cones.) We want to order at the window and then sit in the sunshine as we lick.

life lesson #2
go home. 
montana // the little red house
Now I realize this is not possible for everyone. Some of you are lucky enough to live where you grew up, so you are always "home".  Robby and I live far from our childhood days but we love to go back and visit, and share our best and favorite memories with our kiddos. They LOVE to hear about things we did, places we played, and think it's funny to try and imagine us (because we are so old and dusty) as little kids too.

life lesson #3
climb trees. 
montana // the little red house
The house we are in right now has no trees....well....we have a sad excuse for an apple....bush? This is hard for me--I grew up with trees on trees. When I was little my sister and I would skip two houses down and we spent our summers in our friends' giant willow. Swinging, climbing, crashing down from up high with giant branches landing on our heads (all part of the tree climbing experience). So my kids LOVE going to grandmas where they can be monkeys. They were so excited to show me their fort--"it has a couch, a bed, a fireplace, a table and a roof."
It had some piles of sticks scattered around, and a heavy dose of imagination.
But they were in heaven.

life lesson #4
road trip. 
montana // the little red house
Put your kids in the car (or your dogs, or yourself, or whoever) and just GO. The road is so liberating, and I get antsy for a good drive if it's been a while. But your kids--your KIDS are the ones who need this. They need a change of scenery, they need to look out the window and see things that are different from where they live. They need to see new people and know that the there is a world outside their bubble. I am not at all a well traveled person--I have never left these western states, but I feel like I've been able to see so much because we DRIVE everywhere. And my kids started road tripping when they were just wee little babes so they have grown into the best travelers. When they were little little--3-4-5, I'll admit that DVDs saved us, but they hardly even watch a movie anymore. This last trip was 9 hours and they spent every minute with books and notebooks and just talking about what we were was so much fun (mostly, see next sentence). And as a parent--you really need to hear yourself yell things like "STOP TOUCHING EACH OTHER" and "STOP IT RIGHT NOW OR I'M TURING AROUND." Those things actually came out of my mouth, straight from my own mom and dad's mouth, and it made me giggle.
Your kids need to experience filthy truck stops, a bag of M&Ms for the road, bathroom breaks next to the car with the wind blowing 100mph, and sitting so long they say things like "my legs have been sleeping for too long!"
Road trip. Try it.

What life lessons would you add? 
I'm excited to add more as we dive into summer, and encourage you all to live with a little less technology these next few months. 

happy living!

Sources from this post:

 all photos taken with my phone.....I was really regretting not having my big camera with me when those big puffy clouds rolled in. 
THE best ice cream I have ever found: 
Big Dipper in Missoula, Montana. (it's soooooo hard to choose from all their flavors.)
the Mexican chocolate and salted caramel did not disappoint.
For your road trip:
I'm thinking I should probably write a "how to road trip with kids" post.....
what questions would you have?
In the meantime, check out these books that keep my kids happy and busy in the car:

Friday, June 6, 2014

together again

One week.
The kids have been out of school for a whole week now......and it's been the best!
I have never been so excited for summer to arrive as I was this year, and the last few weeks of school seemed to craaawwwllll by, impossibly slow. This is the first year that both kids were in school all day long (sad, right?), and even though I kept extra busy with my own school schedule, I just MISSED them. I have been counting down days until they are home all day to play with me.

Yes, they are my kids....but they are also my two bestest little friends. It's crazy to me that it feels like just yesterday they were babies (cliche, I know....but so true) but at this age we have so much fun together--and they really can do anything with Robby and I.

We stay up late and they sneak into bed with me in the morning. They like to make their own breakfast and will even make it for me too. We hit the library, the farmer's market, and they help me grocery shop. For all you moms with little babes who can't WAIT to shop's way more fun having little helpers, I promise.

So happy summer is finally here!

a day at the zoo
the little red house
morning trail run
the little red house
family bike ride
the little red house
A Sunday drive to watch the sunset.....that turned into wandering around the forest and a climb up to some waterfalls. We stayed out late and got home long after dark.....but who cares! no school!
the little red house
the little red house

I was looking back at old posts and came across this photo.....3 years ago--they are so little!
We are going to whip up some fruit popsicles soon--just blended fresh fruit and yogurt--so easy and perfect for the summer heat. 
Fresh Fruit Popsicles
blended strawberries
whole blueberries
vanilla yogurt
blended pineapple
(see full post HERE)
pop2 copy
....and as long as we are planning what summer treats we will be making.....I think it's time to make these too.....
chocolate dipped bananas
Chocolate Dipped Bananas
all you need is bananas, dark or milk chocolate to melt (I'm going to add a little coconut oil to the chocolate this time) popsicle sticks, and your favorite toppings. 
Full post HERE

Happy Weekend!

From this post: