Thursday, August 28, 2014

Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

Hey all!  A few weeks ago, I (Hilary) went on an amazing anniversary trip to Mexico with my husband.  We went to Mexico for our honeymoon, so we thought it would be neat to return there to celebrate our 10-year anniversary!  It was an incredible vacation and I thought I'd share a few pictures and a few tips from our trip to San Jose del Cabo!

10 years ago, we stayed in Puerto Vallarta in an all-inclusive resort.  The resort was beautiful, but when we left the property, the town around it wasn't as nice.  This trip, we wanted somewhere safe that we could explore the city and walk everywhere.

I've heard a lot about Cabo San Lucas and researched the hotels there. The tip of Baja California is called Los Cabos and has Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo (plus a few other small towns):

We picked San Jose del Cabo, which has the reputation of being a quiet little fishing town (versus Cabo which has more of a party/nightclub scene), but still very beautiful.  We were not disappointed.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip as well as a few tips for people traveling to Los Cabos!

Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico
(The view from our balcony!)

There were so many plants and flowers.  My favorite was seeing palm trees mixed with cacti!  I'm so used to seeing palm trees in southern California and cacti in Arizona!  Our hotel especially had tons of species of cacti, of which I took tons of pictures while my husband laughed at me!
Cacti in San Jose del Cabo

There were all sorts of other creatures and beautiful flowers:
Tips for Staying in San Jose del Cabo
(Horseback riding on the beach is SUPER popular there so there were horses everywhere!)

We also saw a lot of wildlife.  Our hotel was right next to the Estero San Jose, which is this gorgeous estuary with birds and wildlife.  We walked through it several times (and took a guided bike tour through it as well!):
Estero San Jose del Cabo

The tall grasses reminded us of Jurassic Park, so here's my husband re-enacting a "running from dinosaurs" scene:
Tips for Traveling to San Jose del Cabo

One day, we took a guided bike ride to historic downtown San Jose del Cabo, then later walked to it from our hotel along a really beautiful street.  The vendors were a little pushy, but much more polite than the ones we met in Puerto Vallarta.  We toured the town square, the old mission and saw lots of pharmacies selling drugs without prescriptions (hence the Viagra man sign in front of one of the stores!).  In general, it felt very very safe to me and everyone (locals and tourists alike!) were very nice.  Our tour guide said many people move to San Jose del Cabo to raise their families because it is safe and low-key:
Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

So after spending 4 days there, here are our:
Tips for Traveling to Los Cabos, Mexico

1. Bring lots of clothes!  It is super humid during the summer and hot, so we sweated a lot.  We had to change clothes multiple times a day to keep from being soaking wet.  I didn't even bother with makeup after the first day.

2. Bring lots of sunscreen and reapply often.  Between swimming and sweating, I applied sunscreen 3-4 times a day and STILL got super sunburned.  Make sure you are continuously putting it on!

3. Bring spending money.  When we stayed in Puerto Vallarta, things like souvenirs were really cheap.  Los Cabos is more expensive, so take a decent amount of spending money with you.  Cabs were not cheap (although not super expensive) and most souvenirs were comparable in price to American products.  Many of the restaurants were comparable in price to American restaurants as well.

4. Stay in a hotel with a pool (or three!).  Our resort had three pools and we spent all our time in there.  The ocean around San Jose del Cabo is intense, with lots of riptides and an intense surf.  There were signs warning us to stay out of the ocean.  The marina had some swimming and Cabo San Lucas has some beaches to swim in as well, but it was not an ocean you can just run into and swim anywhere you want.

5. Try to see both cities.  We stayed in San Jose del Cabo because it was slightly cheaper and much closer to the airport (which kept transportation costs down), but Los Cabos has a really good bus and taxi system, so lots of people stay in San Jose del Cabo and spend the day in Cabo San Lucas snorkeling.

The verdict?  We will definitely go back to Los Cabos next time we stay in Mexico!  What a beautiful place!

What about you all?  Have you ever been to Los Cabos?  Did you have the same experience?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to roast corn in the oven

We love corn on the cobb! It's such a dinner staple, and it's one of the few things I can serve in our house that everyone likes, even the under six set. I have been wanting to try roasting corn in the oven for a while now and since our grill is out of commission for the winter (our usual method of cooking corn is set it directly on the grill--delish!) I thought I'd give it a try!

As usual, I read about several other people's attempts at roasting corn, and they sounded kind of complicated. So I decided just to make it up as I went along.

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your corn and leave the husks on but cut off the silks:

Cover a baking sheet with tin foil and arrange your corn on it:

Bake your corn for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your ears. We had big juicy ones so I baked ours on the longer side of that estimate.

When they come out of the oven, you will want to let them cool a bit (I totally didn't and burned my fingers! I was too excited for corn.) and then take a large knife and chop off the base like so:

Note that the end you cut off is the end where the stalks were attached to the ear, not the silky end!
Then you may either gently peel the husks away from the corn, or you can squeeze it out like I did! Squeezing is more fun and so much more impressive:

The corn will magically come out of the husks smoothly and with no silk to pull off:

And it will have a fantastic roasted, slightly nutty flavor. Amazing! And the clean up is almost nothing, just take the tin foil off of the pan and throw it away, done!

This was such good corn, everyone in my kids loved it. My picky five year old ate an ear and a half by herself! I think next time I am going to try opening the husks and adding some spices and butter, then baking it. I'm hooked! This was so much easier then waiting for water to boil and dirtying a pot, and had so much more flavor.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Freak Alley

I've been wanting to do this post for a while, you have no idea. The Freak Alley Gallery is my absolute favorite place in downtown Boise (with the exception of maybe the all you can eat Indian buffet at the Bombay Grill...). I've actually been wanting to shoot an outfit post here for the last year or more, but never really gotten the chance. This last week I finally got around to it! And all the better, because as it turns out I was wearing two of my favorite projects form the last year this particular day.

And while I was there, I realized that this would be the perfect time to showcase one of the coolest parts of this city! The unicorn below was my friendie for these pictures. My incredibly pink pants and I welcome you to Freak Alley:

I wore my DIY "in memory of" t-shirt, which is one of my favorites now and on heavy rotation. And as it turned out was perfect against the awesome graphic backgrounds.

And these earrings are a version of my fringe earrings tutorial in silver.

And now for some awesome Boise culture! Freak Alley was established 12 years ago in 2002, as a place to showcase local street artists. Artists lease space along the walls of a block long alley off 8th Ave in downtown Boise, and the majority of the artwork changes once a year, in August. We've been checking it out a lot lately because the artwork is changing this month and we've gotten to see the artists in action. It's amazing, a living art gallery for the public. And the materials used range from mosaics, to mirrors, to airbrushing, to sharpie. It's an incredible mix of innovative pieces that changes every year.

Just to give you an idea, this is what that same unicorn wall looked like six weeks ago. Please excuse me starting vapidly at the camera:

Awesome, right? This was my daughter's favorite, and if you know about her love of sharks, you'll know why!

This doorway is my favorite piece, and the one from the head shots above. The detail is incredible!

And of course, zombies!

If you're ever visiting Boise this is one local secret you don't want to miss, for sure. And I hope you enjoyed my fun outfit remix/mini tour of a Boise!

Friday, August 22, 2014

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

Ok so you all probably know by now that my (Jessica's) daughter got her very own American Girl doll for Christmas last year. And you probably know this due to the obsessive amount of posts on sewing clothing for dolls around that time. Today isn't going to be any different, sorry! But since it's been a while I figured I could finally bust another one out. I'm going to show you how to make doll leggings using baby leggings, which as it turns out is the easiest refashion ever!

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

You need to start out with a pair of baby pants. Usually 0-3 month or Newborn pants work best. You can look for some with tiny details you can incorporate into your doll clothes, like the little ruffle on the pants below:

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

The pants I started out with are a size 0-3 m. For the record, this is almost too big, newborn pants work better.

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

1. Try your pants on your doll. The leg seam should be just about perfect or this tutorial won't work very well!
2.  Cut off the original waistband.
3. Put your pants on your doll, and pin up the outside of the leg so that the pants are tight enough to be leggings.
4. Lay your pants out flat and make sure there are no major wrinkles where you have pinned off your new seams.

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

5. Sew your new seams using a zig zag stitch.
6. Trim your new side seams Measure how much of the waistband needs to be cut off in order to make the waistband fit your doll. With these pants I needed to take off about an inch at the top, so I pinned it where it needed to be cut.
7. Make sure when you cut your waistband you trim your side seams! This way they don't stick up and make weird ridges on your doll's legs.
8. Cut out your waistband, a little lower in the front then in the back!

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

9. Now you're going to use 3/4 inch elastic to make a waistband for your doll pants. Take your elastic and measure around
10. Sew your elastic together, then sew the ends down. You can see a more detailed tutorial for this here.
11. Pin your elastic to the newly cut waistband of the pants, with the elastic on the outside of the raw edge of your fabric.
12. Sew your waistband in with a zig zag stitch!

**Now you could stop there if you wanted to, basically your doll pants are finished! But I am obsessive about details and so I added steps 13-16 below:

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

13. First, I noticed this super cute little pink bow on the part of the original waistband that I removed.
14. I used my seam ripper to VERY carefully take it off.
15. Then I placed it on the front of my new doll pants, just where it was on the original pants.
16. I sewed the bow down on either side very carefully. I feel it's details like this that make for a professional looking final product.

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

Yay! Now you have finished pants! This project actually took about ten times longer to write then it did to do. I managed to make about 6 pairs of these for my daughter's doll in about an hour.

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial
And I also managed to find this top that actually matched the pants! The top was in a newborn size, which meant that to make it fit a doll all I had to do was take it in on the sides about an inch!

18 inch doll leggings from baby pants sewing tutorial

I hope you guys enjoyed this fun tutorial, and if you want to see more sewing tutorials from us you can always check those out here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Clean Your Microwave (Easily!) without Chemicals

In general, Jessica and I love natural cleaners.  We love that they are often much cheaper to make (hello one cent per load laundry detergent!), and they are less harsh on the nose and our hands!  When it comes to our kitchens, we always use natural cleaners because we don't want our little ones to grab food off a counter that has chemical residue on it.

Several months ago, Jessica shared her technique for cleaning out her microwave naturally where she used a combination of lemon juice and vinegar.  I'm not a huge vinegar fan (the smell is not great) and my mom doesn't like using it either (especially if you are heating it up, it can be intense!).  So I use one ingredient to clean my microwave and I thought I'd share it with you!

Here's the step-by-step, but first...the before picture:
How to Clean a Microwave Naturally
(Now that we are eating paleo, we use our microwave a lot less, so it is not as messy as its been in the past!)

Pour about a half cup of lemon or lime juice into a microwavable container (I've used both and they work equally well).  I did this in an older (slightly brittle) glass once and it cracked the cup.  Oops.  Now I use a sturdy plastic measuring cup.
How to Clean a Microwave Naturally

Place it in the middle of your microwave and microwave it for 5 minutes.
How to Clean a Microwave Naturally

Once it is done heating, you can pull the cup out and throw the remaining liquid out.  You can see that a lot of the liquid cooks out of it:
How to Clean a Microwave without Chemicals

You should see a bunch of condensation inside the microwave (especially on the top): 
How to Clean a Microwave Naturally

Using a sponge, rag or paper towel, simply wipe out the inside!  I don't even need to scrub.  The food is loosened and wipes off quickly.  It normally takes me about 2-3 minutes to completely wipe it out.

Here's the before and after:

How to Clean a Microwave Naturally

How to Clean a Microwave Naturally without chemicals

Ooh.  Sparkly, easy and chemical-free!  Hooray!

What about you all?  What do you clean your microwave out with?

Want more natural cleaning ideas?  Don't forget to check out our Cleaning page!
Thursday, August 14, 2014

basic alterations 101: taking in a skirt

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

So many of you may remember when I showed you how to alter a dress in the simplest possible way, by taking in the sides. That post got such a great response that it got me thinking; there seem to be a lot of people who really appreciate instructions for the basics of clothing alteration. And it's a fantastic skill to have! So today I'm going to give you another brief tutorial, this one on how to take in a skirt at the side seams.

I've wanted this skirt from Target for a while, and so when it finally went on super ultra clearance I snatched it up. The problem? It was two sizes too big! But for someone with sewing skillz that isn't a problem.

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

First, you'll try on your skirt inside out. Pull the excess fabric to one side, and mark where you need to have your new side seam go. Take your skirt off and pin all the way down one side to the hem:

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

Sew your new seam into the side of your skirt. This fabric was jersey and doesn't fray, so I didn't bother finishing the seams at all (also, I'm a super lazy sewist). But if your material is going to fray, you should also add a row of zig zag stitches to the outside, or cut it with pinking shears.

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

Cut off the excess fabric as close to your seam as possible! Especially with a pencil skirt you want to make sure the seam isn't bulky or it will be really unflattering!

basic alterations 101, taking in a skirt on the side seams tutorial

You're done! It's really that easy. And mastering skills like this can help you get miles out of your wardrobe that you never thought possible. Also, when the zombie apocalypse comes raining down on our heads, you'll be one of the only people who doesn't look like they're wearing Walking Dead cast offs! Your clothes will fit you.

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