Thursday, June 22, 2017

Family Friendly Utah Hike: Battle Creek Falls

Me and my dear friend Hannah + her babe at Battle Creek Falls

Hey friends! While not all the readers are local Utah folk, I am! And Darlybird is. And you may visit someday! So I give you: Family Friendly Utah Hikes! First up, Battle Creek Falls, located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. (About 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City, 20 minutes north of Provo). This relatively simple hike is a favorite for families and kids. Here are the details:

Distance: 1.4 miles out and back (according to alltrails.com) (1.5 miles according to my Garmin)

Elevation gain: 636 feet (according to alltrails.com)

Terrain/Environment: Dirt, some small loose rocks (especially on the steeper incline as you near the waterfall, so kids will probably need help, or at least heavy supervision, at that point). Most of the hike to the waterfall is just at a slight incline, so it's not bad at all. Some shade on the trail and a lot of shade at the waterfall itself, but be sure to wear sunscreen, use sunglasses, etc. as a lot of the trail is exposed.

Population: In the summertime (when school is out) and on the weekends, I’ve noticed there are plenty of people on the trail. This makes it a safe trail to do alone (because you won’t really be alone!) and also proves that tons of kids can handle this trail (albeit pretty slowly at times). I recommend using a hiking pack for babies.

Wildlife: I saw one moose years ago, but it was easy enough to turn around just fine. Besides that, the wildlife has been pretty mild when I’ve been there.

Other: I’ve done this hike alone, with kids ages 0-6, and with adults. If you’re looking for a shorter hike with a satisfying ending, this hike is for you! If you’re looking for a longer, challenging hike, keep going (but maybe not with kids) and you can get away from some of the crowds, connect to Dry Canyon, hike Mt. Baldy, and probably a lot more. There are a lot of possibilities with this trail, but the most straightforward hike is, obviously, Battle Creek Falls.

Have you done this hike? Any more tidbits that you'd like to share? Comment below!


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Go-To Berry Oatmeal Muffins


When I want to serve others, but have limited ingredients or want to give them something healthier (because even though sometimes we eat cookies for breakfast, maybe we shouldn’t ;) I go for Berry Oatmeal Muffins now. I adapted a recipe I found on allrecipes.com to be able to use what I had in my house, and it turned out great. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

3/4 cup quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk (I use flaxseed milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or I’ve used olive oil)
1 egg

1 cup frozen berries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Put muffin tin liners in a muffin tin (makes about 12-14).

In a large bowl, mix oats, flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

I push the dry ingredients to the side and add in the milk, oil, and egg, then stir it all together until everything is combined. Fold in the berries. Scoop batter into muffin cups.

Bake about 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

* Because I live at a higher altitude, whenever I bake now I am generous with my flour. I think there’s a specific measurement of how much more flour you’re supposed to add in to baking when you’re at a higher altitude (a couple tablespoons maybe?) but I just am generous when I measure out my flour, and it works out just fine!

The original recipe calls for a brown sugar topping as well, so that is something you can do. It also calls for nuts. When I make it, I omit both of those, maybe add in a bit less sugar, and use frozen berries (instead of fresh blueberries like the original calls for). I also use flaxseed milk because it’s just what I have in my house. Sometimes I also shake in some flaxseed meal, unsweetened coconut flakes, or cinnamon, just to mix things up a bit. What I’m saying is, this recipe is very forgiving. And delicious, simple, and I use one bowl and it turns out just fine! And if that's not a winning recipe, I don't know what is.

What are your go-to eat-on-the-run, deliver to friends, have ready quickly recipes?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Everything is connected—so let's find a way to feel better!


I’ve talked about how the colors we wear and surround ourselves with can affect our emotions, but how about how our emotions can affect our physical bodies? Whether you’re an athlete or simply live an active or busy lifestyle, you likely notice when something feels off: when your shoulders seem to hurt for no reason, or you’re not recovering from that workout earlier in the week like you normally do. Or lifting that weight-- or that kid-- feels harder this week than it did last week. Instead of popping that ibuprofen (though, you can do that too!), let’s dive a bit deeper.

How are you feeling emotionally?

In the back of Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life she has a chart of physical ailments and their emotional counterparts (she also has a whole book about this, Heal Your Body, but I don’t own it. I like You Can Heal Your Life because it’s all about how the words we tell ourselves can change our lives in every way, and I find that a very beneficial practice).

Here are some common ailments she mentions and their emotional counterparts:

  • Knee problems: “Stubborn ego and pride. Inability to bend. Fear. Inflexibility. Won’t give in.”
  • Shoulder aches: “[Shoulders] Represent our ability to carry out experiences in life joyously. We make life a burden by our attitude.”
  • Lower back aches: “Fear of money. Lack of financial support.” (There are different causes for middle and upper back aches. This is my teaser. Go get the book!! SO interesting!)
  • Stomach problems: “Dread. Fear of the new. Inability to assimilate the new.”
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): “Allowing confusion to reign. Giving power to outside influences. Rejection of the feminine processes.”


And there are SO many more. But that gives you an idea of how the body is connected to our emotional experiences.

Note: Sometimes the connecting emotion doesn’t resonate with me, but recognizing that helps me be more aware of how I AM feeling emotionally, if that makes sense. It gives me a starting point for exploring the emotions I am feeling and how they could be connecting to how I’m physically feeling.

When you can become more aware about not only your physical experience/ailments, but the emotional and mental experiences in your life, you can work to change things around: practice positive affirmations, wear those certain colors to help you feel good, paint a wall or decorate your home/office with those certain colors, talk to a trustworthy friend about what you are experiencing, take yourself on a solo-date, write in a journal or find another creative outlet, get a massage or chiropractic adjustment, or find a therapist to help you sort things out.


Have you seen this physical/emotional/mental connection in your life?
How did you heal—emotionally, mentally, AND physically?
Share with us in the comments! ❤

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Our Creative Home: the Geilmans



Friends, we are SO excited to begin the Our Creative Home series again, where we talk to different families about how they encourage creativity within their homes. First up is my dear friend Megan Geilman, who shares about how creativity, to her, is far more broad and flexible than crayons and paper.

Tell me about your family!

We have two little kids so things can be hectic but we are just starting to be able to really do stuff together and it’s wonderful.  My son is 4 and my daughter is 2 and a half--I watch them and work at home as a freelance graphic designer.  I’m also very slowly working on my first show, a photographic collaboration with my sister who lives out of state.  My husband works for a software company and we just moved back to Provo and bought our first home.  We love being back in Provo, especially as a young family.  We live near the downtown and enjoy walking all over.  We are big walkers over here--if I can do anything by walking there, that’s how I get around.  I pack snacks for the kids and we usually stop by the park on our way home so everybody wins.
How have you encouraged creativity in your home?

Not in the ways you would think, especially with me being an Art Education major and all around “creative.”  I love watching my other artist mom friends with their studio space and little children drawing or painting besides them but all my work is done digitally so we don’t really have that going on.  We have paints and crayons but it’s not our go-to thing and I think that’s okay. There are so many ways to be creative and I don’t want my kids, or anyone, to just think that being creative has to do with drawing something.  

I think my biggest thing is allowing unstructured play time.  This is such a great time while they’re young, before school, to learn how to entertain themselves and really grow their imaginations.  We don’t really have a lot of toys but I give them lots of materials to use however they want: blocks, lots IKEA wooden train sets, marbles, peg dolls--and then I let my son have a lot of free reign to use stuff around the house.  I buy almost everything second hand so I’m not too attached to it.  Of course we have a lot of antiques and sentimental items he’s not allowed to use but I try to give him as much freedom as I can handle.  He’ll build stuff with pillows and mats and blankets--he’ll use pretty much anything BUT the blocks.  Probably my favorite thing he built was a U-shaped ramp with my yoga mat that he used to roll peg dolls and marbles down.  They make a great sound and roll really smoothly because of the yoga mat material.  At the heart, creativity is just taking pre-existing materials and arranging them in a new way.  I’ll buy things that are sort of mesmerizing--like a goo timer or plastic covered magnets.  And we have this jar full of buttons and puff balls that is a pain to clean up but they will both spend a good 30 minutes to an hour just getting lost in all the little items--putting them in little jars or building ramps and rolling stuff down it.  I like to keep things simple--the world is crazy enough and things will just get more complicated as they get older.

How do you get your kids involved?

I think a better question for me is how do I get myself involved in their creativity.  Like I said, it’s hard to involve my kids with my creative work--so I try to model creativity down on their level.  And for me that’s pointing things out, slowing things down and taking notice.  The sound of the birds on our walk, the shape of the clouds, or how the light is coming over the mountains in the morning.  The other day I got a big package with lots of packing peanuts and I let them have free reign with them in their play room.  I even shot an awesome video of me pouring them down on them in slow motion--I think I’ve watched it about 500 times because my daughter’s face is pure joy.  And then my husband rigged up a fan over a box and the fun continued!  I love finding simple materials that they can explore.  One day I bought dry ice from the store and we had fun blowing at the “smoke” for 20 minutes and using funnels to make little volcanos.  There’s lots of ideas online but if it takes more than 10 minutes for me to put it together I generally scrap it.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  

Do you have any creative traditions in your home? If so, what are they? How did they begin, and how do you keep the momentum going?

We do a lot of dancing.  We have a dance party at least every other day.  Dance is self care for me and it’s so fun to have my kids finally old enough to join in.  My other favorite tradition is making popcorn and watching a movie with them.  We have this popcorn popper that is basically a big hot plate with a spindle around it covered by a clear bowl and you can watch the popcorn being made.  The kids freak out about it every time.  I also love art museums and my husband is so great about making that a priority wherever we visit.  We also attend community events whenever we can: gallery strolls, the rooftop concerts, and any sort of festival.
What advice would you give to families hoping to live a more creative lifestyle?

Creativity doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.  I think there’s so much to be said for just making moments.  And so much is they just want to do what you’re doing.  So I try to find a simpler, not-so-messy way to get them involved.  When my husband is baking he’ll give them a bowl with flour and a spoon and they are so happy watching the effect the spoon has on the flour.  I’ll let my son hammer nails into a block of wood.  Or just type words into a word processor.  We spent twenty minutes one day throwing a used dryer sheet in the air and laughing as it fell down.  The simpler the execution, the better!  Sometimes I just try to remember what I thought was soooo cool as a kid and replicate that.  

I also think just reading to your kids is HUGE.  My kids are starting to get really good at playing while I read chapter books out loud.  My mom was so good at doing this for me and I know it was a huge influence in me as a reader.  For a long time my kids could only last a little while or they wanted only books with pictures but I’m glad I kept at it.  



Any final thoughts?

I just want to be real for a second--I’m proud of the life I’ve built with my kids and the creativity we’ve enjoyed but I don’t want anyone to think that this is the whole picture.  Things get rushed, we get frustrated, tantrums are had.  I’m not good with unintended messes or when the kid’s decide to do a screaming match or I let them watch TV for too long.  Life is messy and real and not picture perfect but I think that you can still create great moments and simple fun with just that little extra bit of effort.  And if you can’t do that yet, it’s okay.  Life is a journey and progress doesn’t come all at once.  It’s the beautiful moments among the messiness that are what matter the most and the thing that creativity strives for.  And I really think that’s what our kids will remember.

That’s my two cents anyway.
__

Thanks so much, Megan! Readers, what are some ways you are creative with your kids? Any ideas for less-than-10-minute-prep activities? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DIY Yoga Mat Straps


 As a favor to a friend, I’m on a mission to sew 16 yoga mat straps (to carry yoga mats, or use as a prop in practice, if needed). While making 16 straps is a bit time consuming (especially when going off of a picture, hah!), doing a smaller batch for yourself or for gifts should be quite manageable!

* Fabric purchased from Harmony in Provo where, P.S., there is a whole room of Darlybird!! Yoga mat shown in photos is Manduka, and they are QUALITY.

Materials:
1 long strip fabric 37” x 5” *
2 short strips fabric 20" x 5" *
Thread
No-Sew Velcro
Measuring Tape
Pins
Iron
Sewing Machine

* If you round up and purchase 1 1/8 yards of fabric, you can make 4 yoga straps out of it. Cut it like this:



Start by sewing those three strips of fabric into three tubes. Iron them flat (I kept the seam in the middle of each tube). Tuck the ends of each tube in just a bit and sew them shut.

Lay a short fabric strip perpendicular to the long strip. Use a measuring tape or ruler to make sure it is smack dab in the middle. Pin this to keep it in place. Repeat on the opposite side of the long strip, pinning the second shorter strip in place. (This should look like a giant uppercase I).



Sew the strips together where you pinned them in place. I chose to sew around in a square, then make a cross to secure it well.

You have the basic yoga strap! Only thing left now is to add the Velcro. I chose to use No-Sew Velcro ("Sticky Back for Fabrics") so it would just stick on. I bought this in a strip that was 24" x 3/4" long, then cut out strips of 4-5” of Velcro. Make sure you place the Velcro on each small strap in a way that you can wrap it around a yoga mat to hold it (I hope that makes sense!) (See picture for reference).



The Velcro I bought said to wait 24 hours before using it to let it adhere to the fabric. I’d suggest also sewing the Velcro down for extra durability.



And there you have it! A simple yoga mat strap using fabric. There are certainly other styles of straps or options in materials, but this is one option!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Welcoming June

artist unknown, but perhaps Kavan & Co?

May in Utah brought blooms, snow, heat, and cold. We rejoiced in the warmth and were a little puzzled when the chilly weather continued to make appearances a bit longer than perhaps we anticipated. We celebrated Mother’s Day, and I shared about growth from my own personal winter.

Memorial Day, last Monday, was spent honoring those who lost their lives defending the United States of America. The holiday, perhaps spent with family and friends enjoying the outdoors, was also a nice reminder that maybe this warm weather is hopefully here to stay! I ran, hiked, and spent time with friends, and was so grateful for the chance to do so.

___

What does June hold for you? Perhaps a summer vacation, that marathon you’ve been training for, or simply trying to find that perfect Father’s Day card (am I the only one who struggles with that?). Maybe it’s nursing that Memorial Day sunburn (right?) or aiming to get a sunburn by participating in more outdoor activities now that the snow is finally (hopefully) melted for good (just kidding—wear your sunscreen!). Maybe it’s snuggling your kids closer now that school’s out... or trying to sneak away for some alone time now that school’s out! ;)


Whatever your June holds for you, I hope it’s amazing. I hope the warmth and change creates some sort of magic in you. I hope you use that momentum to begin the best summer season yet.

___

What are you looking forward to this month? Tell us in the comments!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coming Soon: Our Creative Home!

from our interview with Ashley Hoiland, January 2015

A few years ago we had a series entitled "Our Creative Home" in which we talked to families about how they encouraged creativity in their homes! We've had painters, graphic designers, filmmakers, creators, teachers, mamas, papas, writers, crafters... it was a joy collecting their stories, and a joy sharing them with you!



We are so excited to announce that we're bringing the series back, both with new families, and some follow ups with the original families we interviewed! Children have been born, children have grown, and as you know, children experience creativity differently as they go through different stages in their lives—and so do adults!

Have fun going through the archives of this series, and check back over the next couple weeks as we begin to share new posts with you!

Want to share your own family's story, or know of a family you'd LOVE to see featured here? Email Allie at allisonabarnes [at] gmail [dot] com and we'll chat!

Thank you to the families we featured a few years ago, and to the families we will be interviewing. We sure love you and are grateful for your contribution!