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10 tips on how to hike with kids

Hiking with kidsThis summer we stuck close to home and enjoyed some of the stunning wilderness right in our backyard, in Utah. Hiking is a wonderfully simple form of fun and exercise requiring very little gear and expense. No matter where you live- there are trails nearby.  Here are 10 tips on how to hike with kids- get kids off the couch and into the wild without complaint and with a smile on their face.

hiking with wildflowers1. Do your research. Talk to locals, friends, consult guidebooks and make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start. Ask others about their favorite hikes and recommendations based on kids age and experience. Start short and simple and work up in distance and difficulty from there. Kids will learn to love the outdoors if they begin by having pleasant memories of excursions, and then (fingers crossed) beg for more.

snack time on Timpanogos2. Snacks and breaks. Be sure to bring along plenty of food and water for everyone. I would highly recommend a Camelback or other hydration system with an easy access tube for drinking water. You will ingest a lot more water if it’s conveniently reached. Bring finger foods that are easy to pack and eat. Our favorite trail snacks are: Granola bars, trail mix, crackers, cheese wedges (in wax) and hard salami- don’t forget a pocket knife. Apples and peanut butter (in a small tupperware container), gummy bears, goldfish and of course a few treats you don’t keep in the pantry at home as an added bonus- a favorite candy bar, cookies of your choice in snack size packaging.

eating wild raspberriesWe stopped to admire and snack on wild raspberries as we worked our way up the trail to the Mount Timpanogos Cirque.

Mt Timpanogos cirque3. Choose a visually beautiful destination. Time flies by when there is a lot to look at and enjoy while hiking, and a stunning final destination will be an unforgettable memory kids will remember the rest of their lives.

columbine, delphinium, indian paintbrush4. Stop to smell the flowers. Don’t try to move too fast, take your time and look around at the details of your surrounding. Point out what you observe and encourage little ones to look closely too. Bring a guidebook and identify flowers, birds, insects, rock formations… Make it an informal, cleverly disguised, learning experience. You might be surprised at what you see when you look close enough.

play with wildlife5. Enjoy the wildlife, in whatever form you encounter.  We love catching- or at least trying- little critter along the way wherever we are- snakes, frogs, fish, lizards, dragonflies, butterflies… Make sure kids get permission first- ask before touching a critter that might be harmful. We catch, observe and study, then put the critter right back right where we found it.

I think it’s crucial to teach kids to be kind to every living thing, to invoke empathy and wonder and instill a kinship and stewardship with nature that can only help them become better, kinder people throughout their lives.

hike with loved ones6. Embark early, finish early. You always hear tales of getting lost, darkness falling, running out of water or food… (you might be able to tell a few tales of woe yourself) but try to avoid drama and trauma through preparedness.. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the whole hike by starting out early in the day and endeavoring to finish before everyone is too tired and upset.

waterfall, Sulfur creek, Capitol Reef UT7. Water. This can and will make all the difference to kids. The hike will become ‘fun’ instead of just walking-for-a-really-long-time if there is water to be played in.

air time with the kids8. Did I mention water? If the weather/temperature is permitting- let the kids get wet… constantly. A  hot, dry hike with kids should be avoided. Take ‘dry’ hikes in cooler weather and plan summer, hot weather hikes into splashing-stomping-jumping-playing days of fun.

hike with loved ones9. Bring friends and/or family. Kids will always behave better if they have a friend along. Bring a someone to keep them entertained, distracted and share discoveries with along the way.

mud mittens10. Have fun. Leave all you cares and worries behind. Be present and enjoy the company of those around you. Tell stories, sing songs, rap, reminisce, be silly. Likely (and luckily), you won’t have cell service in many place you hike, so use that phone only as a camera, give your kids the gift of your full attention and have a blast!

Here’s a short video by my spouse, The Talking Fly of our Sulphur Creek hike, in Capitol Reef National Park and the logistical basics on hiking it for yourself.

add sleeves to a strapless dress

how to add sleeves to a dress

If you are buying a prom, bridesmaid or wedding dress in the store, you most likely experienced some frustration in trying to find some attempt at modesty straight off the rack that doesn’t look like a grandmother-of-the-bride dress or worst. Sleeveless dresses seem to be the standard and if you’re looking to show a little less skin, this can be extremely frustrating. Here’s some help, a full tutorial on how to add sleeves to a strapless dress that requires very simple sewing skills to follow. So go ahead and buy that darling strapless dress and follow this tutorial and confidently add sleeves on your own.

the finished sleeves

sleeves added to a prom dress
So there it is…. the very superficial role I played in Prom this year- altering a dress (or two) for my daughter’s friends. I was denied full involvement due to the fact that my own 16 year old daughter is in Costa Rica as a foreign exchange student (@qruby on Instagram for a glimpse at some fun pictures) until July. Q wasn’t too worried about missing Prom, she was surfing in Jaco instead- a trade I would take any day. We agreed upon the the fact that I would have liked to have seen what dress she would have chosen for that high school coming-of-age event. Ever since then, she’s been at work on a great “Prom dress” Pinterest board, and I love what she’s pinned. There’s always her senior Prom and a boxes full of vintage patterns in my sewing room to look forward too next year!

make a tiered skirt

skirt tutorial elastic waistband

An easy step-by-step skirt tutorial elastic waistband,  a tier skirt with three layers of fabric. Learn techniques in gathering with a basting stitch and installing an elastic waistband. This project is meant to be adaptable to any sized girl or woman.
make a tiered skirt how to, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 1:  Choose three fabrics to work with (at least 1/2 a yard) will make any sized skirt. Arrange the fabrics by layer. For sizing, measure waist, hips and length. Based on total length, (in this case I wanted the skirt to be 22 inches long) I cut the top layer 10″ wide, 2nd layer 8 inches wide, and bottom layer 9 inches wide. Based on waist size, (in this case, a  36 inch waist) I cut the 10 inch wide top layer to be 39 inches long. A bit of wiggle room and space for the hips.  Add 6 inches on the width to the 2nd layer and 6 inches or more of width for the bottom layer. The layers should look like this when laid out next to each other:

make a tiered skirtStep 2: Because the widths of most fabrics (45″ to 60″) aren’t long enough accommodate the 2nd and 3rd layer to be a single piece, I cut the two longer bottom layers so they’ll have a seam on either side. The top layer is one piece and the seam will be in the center back.

serge the edgesStep 3: You will want to ‘stay’ or finish all of the edges of the three tiers. If you have access to a serger (above) serge all of the edges and each tier so it makes a loop. If you don’t have a serger, you can zip zag stitch around the unfinished edges.

all edges serged When all edges have been serged or zig zag stitched and the ends connected to make a loop of each layer it should look like the above picture.

making a dartStep 4: To narrow up the waist of a woman’s skirt, (no need to bother for little girls) add two darts in the back, 6 inches or so out from the center back seam. Make the darts about 1 inch wide and 5 inches long. This will take away some of the need for gathering the waist and will make the elastic waist fit better and look less bunchy.

match the lines and sewStep 5: With the right sides together, match up the dart lines and sew along your marked line.

darts and center back of skirtThe darts should look like this when finished, about 6 inches out on either side of the center back seam.

turn right side out and pressTurn the fabric right side out and press the darts flat with an iron.
baste top edges of tier 2 and 3Step 6: With the longest stitch length on your sewing machine you can set, ‘baste’ the top edges of tier 2 and 3. Begin and end in the center back of the layer. Leave the threads a few inches long so gathering will be easier, especially as you begin gathering.

gather the basted edgeStep 7: By pulling the thread on either side (but not both) of the basted stitch, gather the top of the layer, working around the looped layer to make the gathers even all the way around.

Step 8: Place the bottom of the top tier and the top of the 2nd tier layers, right sides together. Placing the center back seam of the top tier and the center back (and where you began your basting stitch) together and pin into place. Adjust gathers so the layer lengths match up and the gathers are distributed evenly all the way around the loop.
sew layers together, gathered edge on topStep 9: Beginning at the center back and where your basting begins, sew the two layers together. Put the gathered edge on top as you sew so you can keep an eye on the gathers as you sew over them and control the evenness.

turn right side out and pressTurn the seam right side out and press flat. Iron with the seams facing up on the inside so you can top stitch all the inside layers together in a future step.

repeat for the third tierStep 10:  To connect the 2nd layer the top of the third layer, repeat step 7- 9.

Step 11:  Top stitch around the outside of both layers (above).
measure for the elastic waist, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 12: Measure the waist of the girl who will be wearing the skirt and cut the elastic 3 inches shorter than waist size.

Step 13: Make the casing for the elastic by ironing over the top tier of fabric the width of the elastic and an extra 1/8 of an inch. (In the picture above, I ironed over twice so the unfinished seam in buried. This is a good idea if you didn’t serge the edge. Otherwise, you can leave the serged edge exposed and only fold the waistband over once when making the casing for the elastic.)

sew a sleeve for elastic, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 14: Beginning at the center back (mark the center back with ribbon, a label if you like) sew closely to the edge all the way around the waist but stopping about 3 inches from sealing the casing is completely closed.

use a safety pin to guide elastic, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 15: Take your piece of elastic and using a large, easy to grab safety pin, guide the elastic through the gap you left in the casing until it makes it all the way around and back to the opening.
sew the ends of elastic together, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 16: Making sure the elastic is not twisted inside the casing, place one end of the elastic on top of the other end, with about 1 inch of overlap and sew the ends of the elastic together with a repeated back and forth stitch.

sew closed the waistband opening, skirt tutorial elastic waistbandStep 17: Pull the sewn together elastic ends up into the casing and sew the gap closed.

iron the hem into place, double foldedStep 18: For the bottom hem, iron the hem into place (to be the skirt length you desire), double fold (pictured above) or single fold (if your edges are serged) into place and top stitch all the way around.

sew rick rack to a tier of the skirt Step 19: If desired, sew rick rack, lace or ribbon around layers of the skirt for detail and emphasis.

3 tiered skirt with gathering and rick rack

Well done!