Tuesday, April 15, 2014

weekend plans

all worth it in the end
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Every single minute counting down until we left was slow....sticky.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday seemed to span the length of an entire week.
Papers due. Tests to take. Stress piling high. 
I'd arranged to take a test early so we could head out Thursday morning and make our weekend longer. When my Wednesday was done I giggled while simultaneously feeling tears run down my face. We needed this break. I needed this break--a chance to clear my head before these last few weeks of school come raining down hard. We loaded the car--groceries, gear, jackets and sandals and anticpated our sunshiny adventure. It was finally happening!

Plan A.
Our first plan we knew may not work out--we had two campgrounds in mind that we wanted to try to grab a site at--a little unlikely this time of year in Southern Utah, but we'd try anyway--and if not we had a backup plan, and even a backup to our backup plan--such good boyscouts we are!

Plan B.
So yeah--plan A didn't workout--campgrounds full--but no problem.
We stopped in the town of Escalante and found out where we could camp in the area (anywhere that had already been camped in and had a fire ring--a good "leave no trace" practice.) We had our own water and didn't need a bathroom or any other fancy camp things, and we were pointed in a few directions of where to go.
We headed down down down the unpaved road--rocks flying, dust whipping, and tires...popping.

Our tire.
It was flat.
The flattest flat.
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Plan C
We were 9 miles down the road, and it was 5:00--you know, exactly when the small tire shop in town closed. Robby put the donut on and we went over our options:
we go back to town and find a place to stay.....but then we are driving 9 more miles fully loaded down with gear....driving down the uneven road on a wimpy little tire.


Plan D
We were only a few miles from the area we wanted to camp--if we continued on and found a campsite, we could have camp set up, and head back to town in the morning, with less of a load in the car.

We went with D.
We were all anxious to get camp set up, and this would only set us back a little bit of time in the morning--just a quick flat fix and we'd be off exploring, as planned.

We continued down the road....? It was a road. ish.
It would have been fine had we not been on a tire half the size of normal, car fully loaded, and without any phone service. We decided we'd just pull into the first good area we saw to camp....so we drove and drove and drove....
The "road" was more of an "area" that had 
been "scraped" of it's "surface". 
Rocky banks lined the sides--there hadn't been a campsite yet.
"Let's just turn around" we'd say, and then laugh, because there was literally no place to turn around. We didn't want to go any further "off road" than we were, for fear of blowing our donut. 
(that should be a saying--"don't blow your donut". I like it)


So down the road we went, not a place to camp in site, and the road was only getting steeper, rockier, and less road-ish. We laughed and laughed and questioned "whhhaaaaaaaat are we doing?!" 

A campsite? no. 
But a corner just wide enough that we could do a 40 point turn in and head back to town. 

Back to town for....

Plan E. 
(By the time we hit Plan E we were STARVING, so obviously Plan E included Pizza.)
We found a little cabin for the night. And by little I mean it had one bunk bed for the four of us--adventure! The kids deemed that night "the best camping trip EVER!". 
It was fun.....and very....cozy(!)(?)
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Plan F.
Rise and shine! We hurried out of our cozy bunk in the morning so we could be first in line to get our tire patched. After that we'd head out and find a campsite, and spend the day exploring--no time to waste! Plan F was going smoothly, until 
"this hole is too big, even with the patch, you're going to be leaking air"


Plan G.
"But I don't want your trip ruined, so let me go see if I have a tire--even a used tire that will work." Thanks Mr. Tire Man. 

Plan H. 
"I don't have one. 
The closest place that would have a tire for you is a couple of hours away"

Plan I. 
Sadly, at this point, our little donut was our best option......so there we were:
Loaded car, tiny tire, surrounded by gravel roads that were all off limits.

Plan J. 
We all pout. (and by we, I DO mean we, but mostly I mean me.)

We were sooooooooo close. Yet, impossibly far. 
Everywhere we had planned on being the next few days was miles and miles and miles down unpaved roads. 

Plan K. 
We go home. 
Plan K was quickly vetoed by all of us, obviously.

But what? 

Plan L.
We got out our maps and looked for anything and everything we could do from the safety of a paved road. We knew we'd have to leave a day early because we needed to get a new tire before we drove all the way home, but we were going to salvage this trip the best we could! Robby found us a few areas to explore, I found us an place to camp, and we were on the road again.

Plans M-Z. 
We played, explored, and roamed the desert. We looked for different rocks, flowers, lizards, and snakes(!) We crossed freezing cold water to marvel under a natural bridge. We threw up our tent beside the rocks and told stories under a full moon.

the perfect camping spot.
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
a camping "bath"....it was freeeeezing.
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
While things didn't go exactly at all as planned, we found a way! 
There is always a way.....will you find it?

Escalante National Monument
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com

 Capitol Reef National Park
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.comroaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
the first few taken with my phone, the rest were taken with my Mark II.
In Escalante Utah:
Stay/Eat at Escalante Outfitters. The cabin was only $45 for the night and the kids seriously loved it. They are super clean, there are showers and bathrooms (not IN the cabin, but nice to have), and we were very impressed with the pizza--lots of yummy toppings--not your basic greasy pizza.
worth hiking:
at the escalante river trail head (off highway 12, between Boulder UT and Escalante UT), hike about 2 miles up river and you'll see a large natural bridge to your left. You can explore underneath--my kids loved it. The trees were just barely budding and the water was freeeeeezing, but we still enjoyed this quick hike--it would be a good one for summer time.
in Escalante National Monument:
last year we explored Zebra slot canyon HERE. We were hoping to explore more slots this time....but we will be back. oh yes.
from the car:
Drive down the Burr Trail Road out of Boulder UT. There are several trailheads right off the road--some really great areas to get out and explore.
also from the car:
the entire drive down highway 12 is INCREDIBLE. Nothing like it on Earth.
Capitol Reef National Park:
We hit this our on our way home--we have driven through Capitol Reef several times, but we've never got out to explore. We only had time for a quick hike, and we chose the hike up to Cassidy Arch. The views from up top are incredible--I love watching the rock roll from red to white and back again. The hike is only a little over 3 miles round trip, but there is some elevation gain and you are in the sunshine the entire time so make sure to have lots of water.

As always, I have to recommend:
KEENS and CAMELBAKS for my kids
My love for CHACOS
roaming the desert // www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
Any time I post about camping I get so many questions--from gear to food to all the in-betweens. I did a camping basic post a few years ago--check it out HERE.
If you still have questions, ask them in this post. If I get enough I will work on a post and compile all of the info together.
I often get questions about specific camping locations--if I want to share, all the info will be in the post, promise!.....if I want to keep it a secret then I just might do that too :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

blogging about not blogging

last summer. one of our favorite family spots.
why hello there.
it's been pretty lonely around here lately, I know. 
dust collecting, tumble weeds rolling.
these next few weeks will be the same--we are nearing finals (super excited/dreading this time of year),
and I have what feels like 736 papers due and 421 tests to take.

but come find me on instagram (@_sheenarae) for a little mini blog action. I still post photos with little snippets of life, and super simple, throw-together recipes. 

see you......someday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

friday senses

powder for breakfast.
It's spring! It's Friday!! Woohoo!
Here's a peek at our week.

seeing: blue skies. melting snow. lots and lots of sunshine! spring is here (although I know winter is going to surprise us just a few more times this next month....)

presenting: I gave a presentation in school this week about healthy habits in early adulthood. I found THIS talk on dieting absolutely fascinating--check it out for sure.
schooling: Two weeks ago was midterms! I've made it halfway! These next few weeks are going to get crazy.....and I'm trying not to get nervous with all the papers/papers/papers/tests that will be happening. One day at a time, right?
playing: we've been up on the mountain every chance we get these past few weeks--ski season is just about over.
celebrating: Robby celebrates a birthday this weekend! I was with him when he turned 22.....and now he's an old old man. Can't wait to party.
dreaming: I won't lie.....I'm dreaming about summer.
reminiscing: We have been in this house now for a little over a year......crazy! It has gone by so fast ....yet also feels like forever.
reading: go back and read the comments from last weeks beauty post (HERE). I have the smartest readers in all the land! Can't wait to try some of the tips.

looking/feeling awesome: stuck in powder. laughing and flailing as robby takes my picture.


instagramming: I'm no longer posting your "How We Weekend" photos here on the blog--but keep tagging away and come follow the @howweweekend account for a chance to be featured there!
(new here? tag your weekend adventures #howweweekend on instagram so we can all see what you are up to!)
wishing: as soon as we are done in the snow, I need the trails to dry up so we can get the bikes out!

eating: quick and easy.....that's my motto these days. 
BURRITO BOWL // the little red house 
Burrito Bowl
I have posted exactly 1274 versions of burrito bowls on this blog....here is the latest favorite:
-brown rice
-black beans
pickled cabbage (cabbage and your favorite vinegar (white, white wine, red wine, apple cider...etc). Eat it right away or let it sit for a few days in the fridge. )
-roasted sweet potatoes (I always roast LOTS of sweet potatoes so I can throw them into whatever throughout the week)
-sour cream

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

natural beauty

This post requires audience participation......the more we hear from YOU guys out there in internet-land, the better this post will be. We can all learn from each other. 
natural beauty products // the little red house
Over the past few years we have become much more conscious about what we put IN our bodies. Real ingredients, no pesticides, no hormones, no "fake stuff".
We aren't perfect, but we try our best to keep the bad stuff out when we can.

The better we got at paying attention to what goes in our bodies, the more I became interested in what we put ON our bodies. My 6 year old has very sensitive skin, and it really got me searching for the right products, without harmful and irritating ingredients.

We aren't 100% natural.....just like our food--we try to do our best--but I don't stress out about not being "all natural, all the time".

Let's dive right in and start out talking about our armpits. (yay!)
Fun fact: I sweat like a beast--I always have. I'd like to think it's because I'm so active......but I'm most likely also sweating when I'm watching TV in the wintertime, it's just how I was made
(so feminine, right?)
I've always sought out the most potent antiperspirants available, but maybe you've recently read one of the [many] reports over the last few years about links between the aluminum in antiperspirant and breast cancer....it just makes me think. alot. I have tried a few "natural" brands of deodorant and hated them all--they felt weird, smelled weird, and did nothing.
And then I found Jungleman All-Natural Deodorant  
I mean.....it's called Jungleman! I have never seen so many reviews for a deodorant. And it only has 4 ingredients! Now here is the thing--if you are switching from an antiperspirant to a deodorant......you are going to sweat. Our bodies are supposed to sweat, but I promise this stuff keeps you from being stinky (did I ask my husband to smell my armpits....yes I did). We will see how I feel about it when summer temperatures start to make me drip....but for now I am a believer.
(ps for some reason the price shows up as $9something. There are a few other sellers on that same page that list it for less expensive)

Moving on.
I never thought I'd talk about makeup on the blog, I am pretty clueless when it comes to the stuff, but I use Bare Minerals Makeup. It's easy to apply, and the ingredients list is a fraction of what you'll find in some of the more popular drug store brands.

homemade coconut body butter
For everything!!
Remember my homemade body butter? I live in this stuff. If I don't have a batch made, I just use straight coconut oil as lotion--it feels good and you can't beat the smell.
I also take my mascara off with coconut oil, and whenever I straighten my hair I smooth it down with just a little bit. (I have very thick, very coarse hair. If you have fine hair, go easy on the oil)
Another way to use coconut oil that has become really popular over the past few years is Oil Pulling. Have you heard of it? I tried it last year and I have a craaaaazy gag reflex.....so I struggled with it.
The more I hear about it though....I think I might have to give it another try. 

If you are hardcore, maybe you use Apple Cider Vinegar instead of shampoo? I have waaaaaaaay too much hair and need my shampoo, but luckily I was recently introduced to Devacurl Hair ProductsThey are free of sulfates and parabens and help keep your hair healthy. Also--if you have curly hair I promise you THESE are the products you want to be using. My hair is so much easier to manage, and SO much healthier since I've switched over.
If you don't need curly specific products, check out Loma Organics for another great option.
Speaking of Apple Cider Vinegar....what do you use it for? (and I highly recommend the Bragg brand--I've tried a few different brands and this one by far tastes the best). I feel like everyone has their own tips and tricks. I've recently been using it a few times a week [diluted with water] as a toner on my face. We take a spoonful daily during this cold and flu season [and by daily I mean we try for daily but half the days we forget.] Check out THESE uses for ACV.

from Canada two summers ago....just because I needed some kind of "natural" photo....you know.

Let's talk about our faces. Most of you know I was on antibiotics on and off for three years for Lyme disease. While they did their job for lyme (yay!) they also realllllllly messed me up. My face has never ever been the same. My skin wasn't perfect before, but it's a constant mess now, and over the past few years I have tried just about everything on the market--natural--and far from it. I haven't found anything that works (sad face). It's frustrating when I eat fairly clean, drink TONS of water, and really try my best to take care of myself.....and I am constantly pizza face. Last summer I started reading up on the Oil Cleansing Method, and researched, researched, researched, and it pretty much sounded like the miracle I'd been waiting for. After much research, I used a combination of Jojoba OilRosehip OilCastor Oil. I tried it for about 2 months....and nothing.....I actually felt like my skin was [oddly] more dry, and my acne stayed the same. 
Yet I STILL hear about it's wondrous miracles all the time--people SWEAR by it. Are you a believer? Teach me your ways! I really want it to work. I still love the jojoba and rosehip oil and will put a few drops on before bedtime a couple nights a week during this dry winter.
Any one else out there acne prone? 
I'd love to hear what works for you. 

For my kids--I used to get away with just using Dr Bronner's Soap for everything--head to toe. We still use the soap (we always have it in the shower), but they both have too much hair and I don't love it as a shampoo for big kids. Like I mentioned above, my daughter is very sensitive to everything, so I really have to be careful about what she uses. We have loved Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo and Kiss My Face Whenever Conditioner. I was hesitant at first spending $15 for shampoo for my kids, but I just made sure they knew to only use a little bit, and this bottle is so big it has lasted forever. And it has been great for my sensitive gal and her crazy tangly hair.

I asked on Facebook what some of YOUR favorites were. I was happy to see that many of you shared my favorites, but here are a few suggestions that I am really interested in.
Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay. This has 1700+ reviews! Have you tried this? I think I need to. 
Grape Seed Oil. I have heard so much about the benefits of grape seed oil for your skin.
Shea Moisture. I had never heard of this line (also carried by Target) but just the scents alone have me intrigued.

Helpful Tips: 
*I found this website last year--Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep. I've enjoyed checking some of the products that we use and see how they rate--some not so awesome, and I know I can look for better options, and some things we love rate very well.
*Check out Elisabeth's blog--I especially like these 6 simple steps. I love the idea of not rushing out and replacing everything all at once--just use up what you have and then look for better replacements. Baby steps.
*Don't stress. I don't see us ever living a 100% natural life, and I am 100% ok with that. Don't let someone else make you feel bad because they "use more natural products" than you do. Who cares. I saw a "recipe" for natural toothpaste the other day, and it had coal it. It made me need to go brush my teeth over and over with my minty un-natural toothpaste. oh well.

What would you add to the list? Tell us your favorites!

Monday, March 10, 2014

spring things

It's not spring....
I have to keep telling myself that.
But that's so hard to do when it FEELS like spring. No snow. Sunshine. Long hours after school spent outside in the grass. "Mom it's blazing hot outside", and "why don't we have any popsicles?!!". 
Yeah, it's been in the 50s. 
We've been running around barefoot and digging in the dirt.
 But I know we will get hit hard with winter again at least one more time this year.....so I'm trying not to get my hopes up.

but really. look at this.
Even with the longer days and warmer temperatures, we are still very much in soup mode around here. 
This soup is a new favorite. It's from the Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker Cookbook. It was so easy to make and everyone loved it. 
And even though the fennel salad is "optional", MAKE IT--I love what it added to the soup.
SPLIT PEA SOUP // the little red house
Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine ( I substituted apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 1/4 cups (1 lb.) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 smoked ham hock, about 1 1/2 lb.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the fennel-bacon salad (optional):

  • 4 to 6 thick-cut bacon slices
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon


In a heavy fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and celery and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir to dislodge any browned bits on the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker. Add the split peas, stock and ham hock. Cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the split peas are very tender, about 9 hours.

Remove the ham hock, pull off the meat, and discard the skin, bone and cartilage. Shred the meat and set aside.Transfer about one-third of the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Return the soup to the slow cooker, add the reserved meat and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Rewarm the soup on the low setting.Meanwhile, make the fennel-bacon salad: In a fry pan over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then crumble. Cut off the stem and feathery tops and any bruised outer parts from the fennel bulb. Coarsely chop the feathery tops to yield 2 Tbs. and set aside. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise, then core and cut crosswise into paper-thin slices. In a bowl, combine the fennel slices, reserved fennel tops, bacon and lemon zest. Toss to mix wellLadle the soup into warmed bowls and top with the fennel-bacon salad. Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

I have made this cake every year in March for the past 3-4 years (and made it in a different pan every time!) It's so flavorful and just tastes like spring to me. 
LEMON CAKE // the little red house

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Ina Garten's recipe. The only thing I changed was using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil, and using a bundt  pan instead of a loaf pan. This makes a very shallow bundt cake--it's a small recipe. To make it in a round pan see HERE.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt 
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided 
3 extra-large eggs 
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons) 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/2 cup coconut oil 
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze: 
1 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Grease a bundt pan. 

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. 
In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the coconut oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean. 
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside. 
Remove cake from oven and while the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool almost completely and turn over onto cooling rack. 
For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over the cake when completely cooled. 


What spring things have you been up to?