Friday, May 30, 2014

Easy Summer Desserts

Posted by Tara


Hello! Summer is here, kids are out of school, and vacations are starting! If you live here in AZ, you try to do everything you can to survive this insane HEAT. Today I am sharing some fun, yummy, easy, and COOL desserts to try out this summer!

When I think of summer desserts, I think of berry desserts and s'mores and cool treats. Here are a few of my favorites!

Want the kids to participate in preparing a fun dessert? My friend Mandy over at The Hankful House shares this really easy No Bake Sand Cake! Not only does it look cute, but it tastes good too! You only need a handful of ingredients and with the help of the kiddos this will be a quick, FUN dessert!


Need a treat to cool you down? Kim at A Night Owl Blog shares a recipe for Strawberry Lemonade Popsicles These sweet treats are easy to make and are sure to please the kids on a hot day. Not a fan of strawberries? Well she has shared tons of other recipes for popsicles as well. Such as Coke Float Popsicles and Orange Julius Popsicles


Heading out to go camping in the high country? Here is a recipe you need to take with you. Rebecca from The Crafted Sparrow shares this really easy recipe for Samoa S'mores. These look SOOO good!! You are probably thinking that Girl Scout Cookies are gone, but Walmart and other stores carry a cookie that looks and tastes just like them! These will probably be made way too often this summer in our house!


This dessert would be great for having family or friends over or just for an evening with you and your hubs! Katie at Sweet Rose Studio shares her recipe for Mini Strawberry Shortcake. These are little, the perfect size for a single serving. I always feel that nothing pairs better with strawberries than white chocolate and cool whip! 


In Summer, ice cream is a MUST have. Why not make your own this summer? Darcie at Such the Spot shares a recipe for Butterscotch Ice Cream with Buttered Pecans. Everything about this ice cream looks fabulous! She shows how to make the ice cream as well as the buttered pecans. This is a sweet treat that will definitely keep you cool this summer!

Here is a chilled version of s'mores. Kara at Mine from the Making shares a quick recipe for Easy S'mores Parfaits. You can even have the kids help with this one! Any recipes that include Marshmallow Fluff and I'm SOLD! 


Ok, so when I saw this next recipe, I knew my kids would LOVE it! Jill from Food Folks and Fun shares her recipe for Coconut Cream Pie Cheesecake Dip. Not only does it look delicious but it's kid friendly too! Jill is an amazing cook (I've tasted her stuff and I know!) so I have no doubt that these treats taste as good as they look!!


Now I have shared ice cream and a few s'mores recipes, but I am missing something that is a staple in the summer... COBBLER! Rebecca again from The Crafted Sparrow shares one of my favorite desserts. Her Incredibly Easy Cherry Cobbler will have you drooling and you will have to make it! My family is a huge cherry fan, so I know this will get gobbled up. 


Thank you so much for checking out my round up of Summer Desserts! Be sure to check out all of these fabulous ladies blogs! They have so many more recipes and crafts that can be done this summer! 

Linking up with: Linky Party Palooza, Practically Functional, Pinterest Link Up Party

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Florals and Stripes

Posted by Devin
 
Summer is here in AZ! How about in your neck of the woods? I don't know if I am ready for our extreme heat, but I am definitely ready for the more relaxed schedule and additional time with my boys. And before we reach 110 plus degrees, I am wearing my skinny jeans whenever I get the chance. With heat like that, I usually have to opt for shorts or skirts for my daily wardrobe.
 

In the spring and summer I love to wear bright and fun colors. These minty blue floral pants are just the ticket. And I am so in love with florals right now, I can't get enough!
 

I paired these skinny jeans with a coral striped blouse and coral wedges. Coral and minty blue is one of my all time favorite color combinations. I'm so glad we are in the right season to wear them now! I also love pairing florals and stripes together. Pattern mixing is so fun, when done right.
 

I added a cream colored clutch to my ensemble. As a mom who usually has to haul around a giant purse, I jump at the opportunity to sport a simple clutch. I feel so light and free when I don't have to carry a heavy purse with me, love it!
 

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you liked my florals and stripes combination for today's What I Wore. Be sure to check out my post today over at Brassy Apple to see my 5 rules for pattern mixing and check out some other great pattern combinations I had fun styling!
 
What I Wore:
Blouse - Alloy
Floral Skinnies - Rue 21
Coral Wedges - JC Penney
Clutch - Thrifted
 

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Fashion

Posted by Tara

( My daughter and me)

What better way to kick off Memorial Day than by showing everyone this awesome photo shoot I got to be a part of recently?? I was asked to be in charge of the fashion for a collaboration with some of my favorite girls! Everything turned out awesome; from outfits to food to decor.... not to mention these pictures are amazing! Today I want to share all of the outfits I put together for this Red White and Blue Party! 


For hair on the girls we did pig tails, a pony tail, and on Layla (pictured above) we did a cute braid across the top. I wanted their hair to be very natural and easy for them to run around with. I also think two french braids on either side would be adorable as well.


These kids look awesome, right? The kiddos ranged in ages from 6 years all the way down to 3 years old. I wanted to go for a nice casual look. Everyone could go to a family and friends BBQ dressed like this and still be able to play games and enjoy themselves.


Here is what the girls are wearing: (starting from the left)
Floral Overalls: Target
White Tee: Old Navy
Sandals: Old Navy
Printed Heart Tee: Target
Polka dot Pants: Target
Silver Sandals: Target
Heart Navy Blue Top: H&M
Stars Shorts: Old Navy
Silver Shoes: Old Navy


Here are the boys' outfits:
(Starting from left)
Chambray Top: Target
White Tee: Target
Plaid Shorts: Osh Gosh
Blue Shoes: Old Navy
Striped Tee: Target ($10)
Blue Shorts: H&M
Blue shoes with red laces: Target
Sunglasses: Children's Place




Can I just tell you how amazing this table spread looked and smelled?! The decor was amazing and it was so hard not to sneak bites of the food while snapping pictures. :)


What I Wore:
Stars Chambray Top: Forever 21
Red Bermudas: Kendall Jane Boutique
Turquoise Pendant: Charming Charlie's
Floral Shoes: Journey's


Be sure to check out the following blogs for ALL their fabulous recipes and decor ideas! They will have so many great ideas for your upcoming Red, White, and Blue parties. Be sure to pin my fashion post as well as their posts so that you can use them when the 4th of July gets closer!

Fashion was done by US :)
Food Stylist and Recipes : Baked by Joanna
Stylist and Photographer: Just Destiny
DIY Specialist: Dreambook Design
Craft Expert: A Night Owl Blog

Linking up with: Manic Monday // Mix It Monday // DC in Style // Stylelixir // Trend Spin // Stylish Tuesday // Pleated Poppy // Because Shanna Said So // Three-fer Thursday // Funday Monday // Fashion Informant  // Tres-Chic/

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Chicken Coop Sign Tutorial

Posted by Devin
 
Earlier this week I posted everything you'd want to know about our chickens here at our little farm in my Chicken Coop Basics post. ;) As promised, I now have the tutorial for the sign I made for our coop! This sign is super simple to make and I have you all hooked up if you'd like to make your own.


Here's what you'll need:
Piece of wood - The dimensions of mine are 30 x 11" and the wood thickness is 3/4".
Coop sign vinyl - I designed this sign and my great friend Beth made the vinyl for me. If you would like to purchase the vinyl to make this sign, check out her website: www.redleafcrafts.blogspot.com . The price of the vinyl is $5 per square foot, so depending on the size of your sign, this project is super cheap!
Paint - I chose white and a mixture of two yellows I had, but you can use any colors you like!
Sponge brush
Card - Any type of credit card or club card. Not for purchasing anything, just as a tool. You'll see. ;)
Hanging hardware - Check out what picture hanging hardware your local hardware store has in stock to find what will work best for you. It depends on how and where you are planning on hanging your sign.


Step 1: Turn the vinyl over and using your card press firmly all over the back paper. This will help the vinyl to adhere to the clear plastic sheet on the front of the vinyl.


Step 2: Line up the vinyl where you want it to be placed on your wood sign. I used a tape mesure to make sure I had everything centered and I made a little mark with pencil on my sign and on my vinyl to show where it was lined up.



Step 3: Pull the clear covering with the vinyl attached to it, away from the blue paper backing. If any of the vinyl tries to stay stuck to the blue backing, simply roll it back together, press the vinyl to the clear covering with your fingers, and peel away again. That usually works.


Step 4: Set the vinyl back on the sign, making sure to line it up with the marks you have already made. At this point you may want to double check that everything is centered and lined up how you want it.



Step 5: Using your card again, press all over the top of the vinyl to get the vinyl to adhere to the wood. Making sure your wood is sanded and clean will help the vinyl to adhere better. Once you have rubbed all over the top of the vinyl, it is time to pull away the clear covering on the top. This is the trickiest part as the vinyl often wants to stay stuck to the clear covering. I have found that pulling it away at a diagnol and at an angle close to 180 degrees from the wood surface helps it to come off easier. Also, I use my card to hold down any areas that the clear covering is pulling on as I remove it. Go slowly and you will be fine. Remember, this is the hardest part so just take your time and get it right.


Step 6: Line up the second section of your vinyl. Because my sign is larger, the vinyl had to be made in two sheets. If you make a smaller sign, you may end up with only one sheet of vinyl. Again, I lined it up with the marks I had previously made and with the vinyl I already had placed on the wood.


Step 7: Again, press and rub all over the top of the vinyl with your card and then pull away the top plastic covering. Use the same method and tips I mentioned in Step 5.


It should look something like this when you are done.


Step 8: Now that the vinyl is set, it is time to paint! Take your sponge brush and dip it in your paint. Sponge it off a few times before you begin to dapple it on your sign. You don't want much excess paint on your brush when you are applying it to prevent it from seeping underneath the vinyl. Apply the paint to each of the letters in your chosen colors.


Step 9: I usually only let my paint dry for a few minutes before I remove my vinyl. I don't like it to get too dry because it runs the risk of some of the paint pulling up with the vinyl if it does. Be careful to not let your vinyl drop as you are removing it. You don't want any wet paint on the vinyl to accidentally get on your sign. Pull off the large sheet first and then go back and remove all of the small pieces from the centers of the letters.


And there you have it! Once your sign is dry it is ready to go! Simply apply your hanging hardware and hang where you please! Doesn't ours look cute out at our coop?!


Linking Up With: Link Party Palooza // Tidy Mom //

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Chicken Coop Basics

Posted by Devin

First of all, I am not a chicken expert. In fact, we are relatively new to the whole "chicken scene." But we have spent the last few months building our coop and starting up a nice little brood of 14 chickens and we have done a lot of chicken research in the meantime. So today I am going to impart to all of you what we have learned along the way and what we found to be the basics to starting your own coop!

Before I get into the coop details, though, I want to answer a question I have been frequently asked: "Why did you decide to get chickens?" Actually most of the time it sounds like "WHY did you decide to get CHICKENS?!!" Ha! Well, there are a few reasons our family jumped into this chicken business.

Why We Decided to Raise Chickens

Reason #1: Pets for our kids. This family has only ever owned one cat (who showed up at our door one day and lives outside) and a handful of fish. Now that our kiddos are a little bit bigger and diaper duty is officially over, we were ready to take on a few more pets. I had heard that chickens actually made nice pets (never would've thought it) and now that we have them I can say that they really do! Particularly if you get a friendly breed and raise them from tiny chicks, they are so fun and affectionate! Ours love to jump on our laps and take a snooze, they follow us when we walk around outside, and they come running when we call. They are really pretty cool!


Reason #2: Eggs. If you're gonna have a pet, why not get one that makes breakfast for you too? With four boys in our home, our grocery budget is only steadily increasing. We all love eggs and hopefully soon our brood will be providing us with more than we can handle!


Reason #3: Preparedness and less waste. Being able to produce your own food at home is such an invaluable thing. In the case of any type of emergency, I love knowing we will have both eggs and (heaven forbid) chicken that we could comsume if our family needed it. Also, we no longer throw any food scraps in the trash can. Any leftover food goes to the chickens the next morning which will in turn go towards making us more food when they lay their eggs. How cool is that?!


Reason #4: Teaching our kids responsibility and getting them outside. The boys help us with all aspects of taking care of the chickens. They feed them, clean out their water dish, sweep the coop... they are always happy to help. Getting them outside and working and actually happy to do it is amazing!

OK, so I have given my spiel as to why we decided to raise chickens. If I have convinced you that it is all that and a... dozen eggs (?) then here's what you'll need to start your own coop!

Chicken Coop Basics

Basic Chicken Needs: water, food, nesting area, roosting area, space.

Water

There are a number of different ways to supply your chickens with water. Some people swear by chicken nipples, but we had heard mixed reviews on them from various friends (i.e. the chickens were too dumb to know how to use them). So we opted for an automatic watering bowl. We purchased ours at our local feed store and we couldn't be happier with it. Here is a similar one available on-line. You simply hook it up to a nearby hose bib, turn the water on low, and the bowl stays full. We have to rinse it out and clean it about once every one to two weeks, but that is so much easier than filling it up two times every day. Also, we keep our water away from the food so that the chickens do not get their food in the bowl. So far, so good!

Food


In addition to an automatic water-er, we also have an automatic feeder. My super handy husband made ours out of PVC pipe! A quick trip to the hardware store for supplies and we had a feeder in no time! For instructions on how to make your own, click here. To fill up the feeder, you simply remove the top cap, pour in the feed, and your chickens will have food available to them for quite some time! 

In addition to our chickens' normal feed (we currently feed them Chicken Crumble), we also throw down chicken scratch for them daily, as well as giving them all table scraps we have in the house. They LOVE table scraps. I simply collect our discarded or leftover food in an old butter tub throughout the day and then take it out for the chickens in the morning. It is so satisfying knowing that no food is being thrown in the trash can any more.

When we first built our coop, all of our chicken feed was being stored in our garage which is quite a distance from our coop. To make things easier for us, we picked up a metal trash can from Home Depot and now keep all of our chicken supplies in there. No more running back and forth and we don't have to worry about other animals getting into it.


Nesting Area


Chickens need somewhere to make a nest and lay their eggs. From what we have read, each nesting box can handle between 3-5 laying hens. We have plenty of room so we went ahead and got 6 nesting boxes. We purchased ours from a local man who makes and sells them on Craigslist. He is close and he is cheap. We figured we probably couldn't build them for as little as he was charging. Score!

Right now our nesting area is sectioned off for our four littlest chicks, but it will be opened soon and all of the chickens will be together and have full access to the nesting area. 

Roosting Area


Besides a place to nest, chickens also need a place to sleep. They like to sleep as high as possible, so an elevated area provides them a great place to settle down at night. Jake built our roost out of scrap materials that a friend gave us when he was done with a shed-building project. The chickens all knew right where to go on their first night in the coop and settled in nicely.

Jake also cut out a flap in the wall right behind the upper deck of the roost to provide a breeze for the chickens on hot nights. And in Arizona, we have plenty of hot nights. It's super simple, with two hinges on the bottom and a rectangular piece of wood at the top that swivels to lock it in place when it is closed.

Our Coop Design

I thought I would also share a little about how our coop came to be. The design of our coop was formed based on what we already had on our property and what materials were free or readily availabe to us. We wanted chickens, but we didn't want to spend a fortune on them.


We built our coop by joining together two existing dog runs on our property. These were basically just two rectangular runs with chain link fencing down the sides, old chicken wire on the top, doors at each end, and cement on the ground. We cut the chain link and joined the two dog runs in the middle section (creating one large coop), took off the old chicken wire roof since it was in bad shape, and replaced the chicken wire with more chain link across the top. Small birds do sometimes get in the coop, but so far it hasn't created too much of a problem. We may eventually run some chicken wire a few feet high around the outside edges of the coop if we have a pest problem. As for the cement floor, we love it. It is so easy to sweep or hose out which makes for simple coop clean up. We are going to install some misters this summer to prevent the chickens from getting too hot, but we figured we would have to do that whether we had cement floors or not.

To give the chickens more shelter, we added some corrugated roofing (which we purchased at Home Depot, 2 sheets for each side) on the North ends of each of the runs and added a few walls with some plywood sheets that the same shed-building friend gave us. We added some trim and a port hole window for a little curb appeal. Can't get enough of that window! Every time I glance inside it I see a chicken perched up on the roost looking back out at me!


And finally I added a coop sign, because if you're gonna have a coop (even a low budget one) you should try to make it atleast a little cute! If you are interested in making this sign as well, I will have a full tutorial on the blog later this week. :)


If you are considering making your own coop and getting a few (or a lot of) chickens, I highly recommend www.backyardchickens.com for any and all questions you may have along the way. That website is awesome!

So far we are really having fun with this chicken experiment. I hope we have inspired some of you to become chicken owners as well!

Linking Up With: Link Party Palooza // Tidy Mom //

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