It's Irrigation Day

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
As a California transplant living in the desert of Arizona, there are a few things that really trip me out and one of them is flood irrigation. Every two weeks in the summer and once a month in the fall, winter, and spring months, we irrigate our yard with a "flood."

Very few homes in Arizona actually have this type of irrigation. It's usually found in older neighborhoods and neighborhoods zoned for agricultural use. My sister, who is an expert on all things garden/desert/plants blogged about flood irrigation here and explained that the water sinks deeply into the soil which makes for deep roots for both grass and trees.  It also helps to flush out salts that accumulate in the soil.

Best seat in the house on a hot summer day

Snow melt and rain water is accumulated throughout the year in a system  of reservoirs and canals. One of these canals runs right behind our backyard. We sign up to irrigate through our local utility company. We are allowed up to 3 hours of constant flood irrigation but we usually sign up for just an hour and a half to two hours. The utility company then sends out a schedule with our irrigation time (which lately has been in the middle of the night!). When it's our time, I drive to the end of the street to open the flood gates and turn on the valve that you can see above to get the water flowing.

Although it looks wasteful, if done properly, flood irrigation is a very efficient way to water. Because of the heat where we leave, a lot of the water from daily sprinkler use evaporates before it has a chance to soak in. A once a month deep water is much better for plants in the desert than a daily, light sprinkle. The key is to figure out just how much water you need and order the right amount. It's also important that your yard is nice and even or a little hill or slope will send that water right into the street. Sadly, I have seen some neighbors water their driveways on occasion.

Our first irrigation -we hadn't figured out how much water we needed and obviously ordered too much.

My dog Sodapop goes crazy over the irrigation. As soon as she sees the water flowing, she runs up to the valve and lays right next to it. The boys love it too. They think it's a blast to take a pair of my flip flops and have "boat" races. I love the irrigation because it brings a ton of fun critters to the backyard - ducks, snakes, toads, and all kinds of cool shore birds. 

Today is irrigation day and we are fortunate that it wasn't scheduled for the middle of the night. It is scheduled for late afternoon which is the hottest time of day. The boys are stoked!

We've been irrigating this way for over a year now and I still think it's kind of bizarre (although we have the happiest fruit trees ever). Almost as bizarre (but not as scary) as the scorpions out here - which I'll never get used to. But that's an entirely different post.

Help the Blakelys Adopt

Monday, June 28, 2010
I have recently started advertising on Confessions of a Paper Freak. Emmy, the brains behind Confessions, and her husband have just begun the adoption process. Although the majority of their costs are covered, they still have about $3000 to raise. You can read all about their journey here.

To raise the rest of their funds, Emmy has coordinated a HUGE raffle. When she contacted me to see if I'd be willing to donate to the raffle, I absolutely couldn't refuse. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for adoption and I am so happy to help.

Emmy has put together three raffle baskets each with a value from $800 to $1500 dollars. There is one for kids, one for locals only (she's in Southern California), and one for the grown ups. Seriously, the baskets are incredible and are filled with amazing items from Etsy sellers, local businesses, and other amazing indie artists.

Two of my items can be found in the kids basket among a ton of other super cool things.

And one of my signature deer head tees.

If you are interested in checking out the raffle or reading about Emmy's journey, be sure to visit Confessions of a Paper Freak. The raffle closes this Friday at noon (PST). Good luck!

Cheering 'em on with treats!

Friday, June 25, 2010
As you might have heard, USA beat Algeria in a nail biter of soccer game this week. I'm pretty sure it's because I made these festive cake pops to help cheer them on to victory. Since they will be playing Ghana in the round of 16 on Saturday, the boys and I made these little goodies to help cheer them on again. (As I've mentioned before, I'm not a baker so it is a rare thing indeed that I've posted about baked goods twice in one week - don't get used to it).

The stars were made out of melted jolly rancher candies. They were a bit of a pain and I'm not sure I'd try it again but the few that didn't crack sure look pretty.

GO USA and whoever else you all might be cheering on this weekend.

Alright girls, time to get to work!

Thursday, June 24, 2010
18 weeks ago my cute little day-old chicks arrived in the mail. Yes, they came in the mail. Crazy, I know. From what I've read and what the teacher said in chicken class, pullets (young hens) generally start laying eggs between 18-20 weeks of age.

Just minutes after they arrived in their box

They are 18 weeks old now. Egg watch has officially begun. I know that some chickens don't lay eggs until they are 6-7 months old and hot weather can delay the process but I'm pretty sure I can't wait that long. I even went out and bought a darling pair of egg cups so I can photograph those beauties to share with you all when they get here. I will be one proud chicken mama!

A few weeks old and showing off their new tail feathers

We chose our hens by the colors of the eggs they lay and by temperament. Flo and Ramona will lay brown eggs and Lucy and Effie will lay green or blue eggs (hopefully!). Imagine how cute those eggs will be perched in my new egg cups.

Flo (isn't she gorgeous?) and Ramona

Each morning this week, the boys and I have woken up and gone on an egg hunt. The girls have nesting boxes in their coop and I am hoping they will be comfortable enough to lay there regularly.  I even have fake plastic eggs in each box so the girls will get a clue on where to do it. Sounds silly but my chicken teacher recommended it - and she rules. They do free range most of the day so there is a strong possibility that they will choose to lay around the yard.

I'm a bit obsessed over this whole egg laying deal and I really hope I'm not giving the girls any performance anxiety. Honestly, I can't help it.  For now, I'll continue my egg hunts with the boys and I promise you'll be the first (well probably the second or third) to know when we've got one!

Busted. They no longer have access to the veggie garden.

Breakfast of Champions

Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We are big World Cup soccer fans and have been loving all of the games so far. Unfortunately, my 2 and 3 year old boys don't find the same joy in watching 90+ minutes of soccer 3 times a day. They are into it for the first 5 minutes or so and then they'd rather ride bikes. In an attempt to keep them "involved" in the BIG game tomorrow, I am bribing them with treats. Yes, I know the game is on at 7am but who says you can't have cake pops for breakfast?

I know I'm way late to the game and am probably the last one to make Bakerella's cake pops but honestly, I've been intimidated to try. Those that know me can attest to the fact that I have no business being in a kitchen. It's not for a lack of trying, but I am seriously the worst cook/baker in town. Imagine my surprise when I actually checked out the recipe for these crazy cute little pops and learned that the only baking involved is a cake from a box. Even I can handle that (usually).

So the boys and I headed out to the market  and to Hobby Lobby this morning to pick up the necessary ingredients. They helped me bake the cake and I waited until they were napping to tackle the rest of the task. I figured I'd need to concentrate and two pairs of grabby hands all over the place was not going to help. Surprisingly, these cake pops were not at all hard to make and taste divine! They aren't perfect but I am quite proud of myself.

The boys are going to be all over these. I figure if I ration them every 15 minutes or so, I can keep them "involved" in the game - at least for the first half.

Get instructions for your very own cake pops here. And remember, if I can make them, anyone can.

Our New Garden

Monday, June 21, 2010
I mentioned to my mom that I'd love a little succulent garden in a white ceramic bowl for our dining room table. My mom is a fabulous gardener with a love for succulents and she created this gorgeous garden for us.

Now I just need a teeny tiny gnome to place inside.

Model Casting Call {Phoenix Area}

Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I have been invited to participate in an amazingly fun and creative photo shoot next month with some of my favorite indie designers. Laura Winslow of Laura Winslow Photography is photographing the shoot and coordinating all of the details with Mia of Dolce Vita Mia and Kim from The TomKat Studio.

Laura has currently opened up a casting call for girls aged 6 to 9 years old. If you have a daughter this age and are in the Phoenix area, head on over to Laura's blog for details. This would be an awesome opportunity!

What's Growing in our Garden

Monday, June 14, 2010
One of the bright sides to summer in the desert is that our vegetable garden and our fruit trees are absolutely thriving! I can't take credit for the success of the plants as my husband and mom do most of the gardening (although I do water from time to time ;). Currently in our garden we're growing corn, peppers, various herbs, watermelon, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers.

One of my fabulous garden markers from Monkeys Always Look



We hung up these CD's to keep the birds from eating the veggies. It seems to work well as we haven't had any problems since they've been hung.

Almonds on our almond tree




In addition to the delicious fruits and veggies, we should have fresh eggs very soon! My girls have been spending a lot of time in their nesting boxes lately and they are about the age to start laying. I can't wait! We are totally on egg watch over here. I'm hoping that the summer heat won't decrease their production too much. To keep them comfortable during our hot afternoons, we turn on a little portable mister for them and they hang out under it for hours. We spoil our girls in the hopes that they'll spoil us in return.

And I have to include a recent shot of my favorite chicken, Effie. Her fluffy cheeks have filled out to a full on beard. She is totally awkward but definitely affectionate and loving.

Even though my boys aren't crazy about the veggies we grow, they are crazy about their popsicles.

Shop Handmade and Help the Gulf Coast

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
First off, I apologize that I haven't blogged in a few weeks. We are in full on summer mode here and the boys and I have been keeping ourselves busy. I promise to get back to blogging more regularly soon.

Anyhow, I want to tell you all about a fabulous shopping opportunity. Kate from Flapper Doodle has generously donated her time to organize a wonderful Etsy shop, Help the Gulf Coast, with amazing items donated by equally generous Etsy sellers. 100% of the proceeds (minus Paypal + Etsy fees) will go to Oxfam America and the National Audubon Society to help with clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

This is just a small sampling of some of the amazing items available at Help the Gulf Coast on Etsy.

Monogrammed Eco Notecard Set by Ex Libris Handmade for Help the Gulf Coast

Feather Wrap Ring by Brilliance Found for Help the Gulf Coast

Original Collage on Recycled Wood by Staunch Studio for Help the Gulf Coast

So what are you waiting for? Now's the time to do some shopping and feel good about your purchase knowing that you contributed to the relief efforts from this catastrophe.