• B reviews

    Camping in the Backyard: brought to you by REI

    The Tent

    You may have noticed my tent in my last post about camping on Labor Day Weekend. That’s the tent I bought with my REI gift card back when I toured their store a month ago. Remember that post? Little did I know my tent would come in so handy! In the rain even!

    Anyway, I took the photos below when we did a little test run in our own backyard about a month ago.

    backpack supreme

    I also bought that backpack with the whistle in the buckle. I figure if we go hiking I’d definitely want something loud to scare away the mountain lions. Plus Bug really liked that it had a bladder in it and I think being able to sip her own water might make it more fun for her to carry her own bag. We’ll see.

    I don't know how to put up a tent! hmmmmm....

    We decided to take our tent on a maiden voyage to our backyard. We do have an awesome backyard after all. We might as well enjoy it. It cools down really nice out here in the desert and I’ve been wanting to sleep outside for a while.

    So we set up the tent.

    Where does this go again?

    That was fun. Actually, it was really easy. I love how the tent poles just snap onto the tent instead of having to thread them like the old ones. So much easier!

    this should be easy

    It was so easy even a five-year-old could do it. Sort of.

    tah dah!

    Tah dah! We were so proud of ourselves.

    proud tent putter-upper

    Please forgive my backyard camping hair. Actually, that seems to be my all-summer-long hair. It’s so stinkin’ hot out here I can’t stand a bit of my hair to touch my face.

    Hi Mom!

    we're camping in the backyard!

    And then we went inside and enjoyed the peaceful evening by having a massive tickle fight.

    by the moonlight


    I can’t wait to take it on a real camping trip!

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  • Beach Bits,  Buddies,  Bug,  coffee!coffee!coffee!

    A weekend with friends.

    I don’t know the last time I did something clichéd like go camping or have a picnic on a holiday weekend. I think most of these sorts of things just get turned into any other day for people like me. When you’re a freelancer, every day is Monday and every day is Saturday so holidays were just days when the post office is closed and there are more people on the road making all kinds of traffic and beaches are crowded.

    But now I have a kid in school and everything is different! I have to set an alarm to make sure we get up in time and then I watch the clock to make sure I don’t forget to pick her up from school. Imagine that, I’m a slave to the work-week schedule just like anyone else. And you know what that means besides making me an annoyed clock-watcher? Holidays and weekends are more special now! Woooo-Hooooo! TGIF means something to me now!

    Camp Blue

    So you know what Bug and I did for our very first special holiday weekend? We went camping. With friends. For the WHOLE weekend. It was awesome.

    American Jedi and his kid

    First we hung out with these monkeys.

    ipad: world's best babysitter

    happy rug crawler

    This baby is so photogenic.

    Then we went to the beach. Good thing I had my new handy-dandy smart phone since I forgot to charge the batteries for my handy-dandy underwater camera.

    This is Carrien (pronounced Kareen) who I met through this blog. Funny how that works. (I have a better picture of her further down.)


    Then we went to her in-laws and camped in their front yard. As you can see their front yard is nothing to sneeze at. I didn’t do a very good job at taking an establishing shot (perhaps I was too busy having fun) but the inside of their house was amazing and I did manage a few random shots here and there. I hope they don’t mind me posting.


    I loved it there. It felt like home. Someday I want to have a home like this. Maybe not as big (they have eight kids) but as welcoming. That was what made it special. It was this big sprawling ranch house with art everywhere and a long country table that invited you to sit down with your coffee AND your laptop. I loved that there were probably at least four or five laptops sitting around at all times. Nobody thought it was rude if you looked down to check your phone.






    Aaron makes the coffee turkish coffee

    Turkish coffee

    Carrien’s husband, Aaron, made me Turkish coffee. It was really good with a lot of sugar and no cream. I’d never tried it before but I found I liked it. Like that’s a big surprise. Any kind of coffee made with care is probably going to go over really well with me. I was happy. Coffee, wifi, good company…it was wonderful. I could spend the whole weekend there and I did!

    Baby J


    Bug was having her own kind of fun: kids and bouncing. They had a trampoline and a swing-set and a clubhouse and of course lots of hills and trees and rocks to explore. She was in heaven.



    white pomegranates

    There was pomegranate picking…

    pomegranite seeds


    and chickens

    egg collecting

    and egg collecting (photo by Aaron)

    And a fire pit! We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.


    And then we camped under the stars.

    Camping bed head.

    Camping bedhead brought to you by Instagram!

    Also, it rained! At 4 o’clock in the morning I felt this faint mist on my face. I thought it was a very pleasant dream but then I woke up and quickly went into survival-girl mode. I put the rain guard on in the dark as lightning flashed around me. Within minutes the raindrops fell. It wasn’t a very heavy rain but it was enough to soak one of the other tents that didn’t have a rain guard. I’m glad I’m one of those people who wakes up pretty easily otherwise this post would have been about a whole other kind of adventure.

    morning visitors

    We did have a visit from the ranch dogs who were terrified of the lightning but thankfully Bug was pretty aggressive at telling them to get out while I was outside putting on the rain guard. Living with my mom’s dog, Spreckles, has definitely taught Bug how to handle dogs with authority. She’s no wimp.

    La Jolla

    You’d think that would sum up our super-fun weekend but you would be wrong. We also went to church (after camping!) and to La Jolla for a picnic lunch and some tide pool sight-seeing.


    ready to go down

    tide pools

    Carrien and Jellybean


    At one part there was a ravine full of kelp. We were all curious how deep it went. So of course we had to investigate.

    kelp stomping

    It was about a foot and a half deep. The kids had a blast walking around in it, jumping in it and generally slipping and sliding and not paying attention to the try-not-to-get-wet admonishments. Who are we kidding? We all knew they were going to get soaking wet anyway. It’s the beach and they are kids!

    modeling their side knots

    So they sported the side-knot—a new look for fall.

    AND THEN!! As if we hadn’t done enough, we went to a birthday party and the kids slid down this thing:

    crazy bounce house water slide

    splash zone

    I’d never even seen one of these before. What a riot! I really should have gotten a swimsuit on and tried it myself but it was in the late afternoon and I was too busy sitting with my mom-friends chatting.

    little camper

    It’s safe to say that everyone slept well after this day. Rain or no rain.


    We were very sad to go home. I think I’m adding their neighborhood to my list of possible places to move in June.

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