10 Camping must haves

10 Camping must haves

Who loves camping?  There is nothing better than getting out into gods majestic landscape and be one with nature.  It resets our internal batteries and gives us peace in an overstimulated world.  Find the place in this world where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reflect on your inner self.

If you have not grown up a camper, it is not that hard to start.  Here is a list of 10 camping essentials that you need before going camping.

A Tent

For some people, camping out under the stars is the only way to go.  For those of us who are wanting a more comfortable option, a tent is the first order of business.  Not only does it give you a place to

sleep, it gives you shelter from the elements and a place to kick your husband out of when he eats the whole can of baked beans.  There are SO many different types of tents out there, it will be hard making your mind which kind to start off with.  Just make sure that it is big enough for your needs.  You can pick up tents for as little as $20 and can go up to $1000+.  Most great camping tents will not cost you more than $150.

 

Tip: Make sure to assemble your tent before going out to the middle of nowhere.  Nothing is more frustrating than to get to your camping spot only to find out you have no idea how to assemble it and darkness is coming a lot faster than you thought.  Make sure you know how to assemble and disassemble it with ease.

Sleeping Bag

A nice comfortable and warm sleeping bag will pay dividends on your camping adventures.  When picking out your sleeping bag, make sure you understand the weather ratings and the time of year you are camping in.  Some sleeping bags are rated for camping on the side of Everest, while others are made for breathability in the summer months.  You don’t want to be in the middle of the desert with a winter sleeping bag or vice versa.  You will not be having a comfortable sleep.  Most good sleeping bags will be between the $30-$100 range.

Along with Sleeping Bags, if you have a hard time sleeping on the hard ground, make sure to pick up a cot and sleep with a bit more comfort.  It will not be a memory foam mattress, but a cot is infinitely more comfortable than sleeping on the ground.

Lanterns/Flashlights

You want to see where you are going at night don’t you?  There is nothing worse than having to pee at night and not know where a flashlight is.  Having to feel your way around awkwardly at night is not safe.  Make sure to pick up a lantern or at the very least a couple flashlights.  Notice I did not say 1 flashlight.  Make sure to pack 2-3 flashlights more than you need in case some of them stop working.  Also, pick up extra batteries for your lights.  You can pick up flashlights at Wal-Mart for about $1.

Firestarters

The survival of the human species has often involved fire.  It brings security, light, and a great way to cook some amazing food.  Some of the best food I have ever ate was around the campfire.  Be sure to know how to build a campfire, find fuel, and get it started.  Most people use matches, others use lighters, some take it as a challenge and can start fires with magnifying lenses, 9v batteries and steel wool and also fire-starters, which are small bars of magnesium that shoot out sparks, that when caught in a highly flammable substance, can create fire. Matches would cost less that $5 at any store and actual magnesium starters would cost between $10-$20

Knife

A knife is a campers best friend.  It can be used for so many different things, it is literally the only tool that you really need while camping.  Find yourself a nice piece of wood and start carving to pass the time.  Use the knife to eat, prepare food, emergency first aid (no not open heart surgery), cut branches for fires, cut rope, the list can go on and on.  Most good knives can be purchased for under $20, but you can get really good Leatherman brand multi-tools for around $100 and those have everything from pliers and knives to saw-blades and screwdrivers.

Food

Make sure to plan out your food supply accordingly.  Know how long you will be camping for and make a detailed meal plan.  Having that meal plan will make things go much smoother in the long run as you know exactly what you will cook and when.  Make sure that you choose things that are not too complicated to cook, like Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Baked Beans, Eggs and Bacon, and anything in the Dutch Oven.  Pack snacks that are easy to cary and high in protein like jerky and granola bars.

Cooking Equipment

Nothing is better for cooking while camping than a Dutch Oven.  Throw everything into a pot, set it on some coals, cover with more coals and VIOLA! in a couple hours you have the best food known to man.  Stews, Cobbler, Bacon and eggs, ribs, hamburgers, etc.  You can make breakfast, lunch, and desert in one and they are super easy to clean and maintain.

If that isnt your thing, there are propane cooktops that are just as easy to use , but do require some assembly.  A dutch oven will fun you anywhere between $40-$99 and the propane cooktops will run about the same, but with the added cost of purchasing your own griddle and cookware, etc.

Toilet Paper

Does this really need any explanation?  Make sure to bring double what you think you would need and that will save you from having to use leaves.

*Tip- Keep your TP in a Coffee Can so it does not get dirty or wet.*

Bug Spray

Nothing can put a damper on a camping trip more than those annoying mosquitoes.  Make sure to pack bug spray with the most DEET compound (the ingredient that actually repels mosquitoes and other biting insects) you can find.  This will be a lifesaver.  There are other gimmicks like mosquito bracelets, but those are mainly designed for urban settings and not the deep woods.  Get the good stuff.  A can of bug repellant will cost you about $5.  Make sure to apply every few hours to get the maximum effect.

First Aid Kit

Accidents happen.  Be prepared for the worst case scenario.  A good first aid kit will not cost you more than $50 but should have all the necessary items like band-aids, burn ointment, gauze, tape, antibacterial lotion, etc.  Keep in mind that wherever you go, you do not have readily available access to emergency services.  If you plan on taking a lot more camping trips, it may be a good idea to take a first aid course or at least have a first aid book that you can take with you for reference.

 

These are just some of the items that are needed for a basic camping trip.  If you are new to the idea or just getting started, these items will make sure you have a great time away from it all.

5 AWESOME S’more recipes

5 AWESOME S’more recipes

The best summer snack has to be the s’more.  Nothing beats the melted chocolate, golden marshmallow, and graham cracker outsides.

I mean come on…just look at that.

Can the s’more be improved upon?  What could make it better?  Lets take a look at 5 unique variations on the classic campfire treat.

 

Nutella S’mores

Did I just blow your mind?  Yes.  I just said it.  Replace the chocolate bar with nutella and WHAM.  Every Nutella fans dream.  Just place a heaping spoonful of the nectar of the gods between your graham cracker and marshmallow and you have an amazing treat that you will crave year round.

S’more Ice Cream Sandwich

This one may be a little more difficult to do while camping because it requires ice cream.  Take your graham crackers and lay them out.  One gets a bar of chocolate and a roasted marshmallow, the other gets a scoop of ice cream. The perfect cool treat at the end of a hot day.

*Tip- It is better to use semi soft ice cream and immediately feast on this treat than use hard ice cream.*

Peanut Butter S’mores

Just like normal s’mores, but better in every way.  Just add a scoop of peanut butter and you are all set!  Super simple change to add a world of flavor.

 

Cookie S’mores

Sub out your graham crackers for warm delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies or Peanut Butter Cookies (or any cookie you want for that matter!)

 

Pumpkin Pie S’more

Just add in some pumpkin pie for sore some real fall flavors.  If you are a texture person, maybe add another layer of graham cracker between the mallow and the pie to give it a bit more depth.

*EXTRA* Bacon Weave S’more

The only way to make a s’more better would be to add bacon.  Amirite?  Substitute out the graham cracker for a bacon weave and you are set for a sweet and savory treat that should be eaten sparingly unless you want to send that cholesterol level through the roof.

5 Awesome Summer Activities for Families!

5 Awesome Summer Activities for Families!

It is that time of year again! Hot weather, BBQ’s, swimsuits and family vacations. School is out and parents wonder how in the world they are going to entertain them all summer long. There is absolutely nothing worse than having bored kids hanging around home not enjoying their free time.  Let me give you some ideas to keep those kiddos occupied and have quality family time.

Go visit a local aquarium or zoo

71% of our beautiful earth is covered in water.  Go explore the wonder that is our ocean life.  If you don’t have an aquarium nearby, go find a zoo.  Even if you life in the desert, big metro areas normally have an awesome aquarium or zoo.  I know in Salt Lake City we have an AWESOME aquarium called The Living Planet Aquarium and the Hogle Zoo.  Kids love it, and it will give you at least one full day of a wonderful summer experience.

Go Camping

Honestly, there is no better reset for your life than to go out and be in nature.

Wherever you live, you are only a few miles away from nature.  If you live in New York or Los Angeles, you are within a couple hours of some of the most beautiful camping spots in the world.

Sitting by a campfire, roasting hot dogs and making S’mores really brings the family together.  Sharing stories without the distractions of cell phones or overbearing bosses is something that your children will cherish as they grow older.  They may not appreciate it now as children, but when they grow older, those will be some of their best memories when they are camping with their children.

In the beginning camping can be an investment, but you can do it on the cheap as well.  You can be all one with nature, build your own shelter, hunt your own food if you want or you can go all out with the fanciest campers and tents.  Most people find a happy medium with a tent, sleeping bag, and a fire pit.  It really is up to you.  Check out my 5 Camping Must Haves for getting started camping.

Go to a swim park

Nothing says summer more than going swimming but not everyone has access to a pool in their backyard.  If you live in an apartment, normally they have community pools.  If you don’t live in an apartment and don’t have a pool at home, go to one of the amazing swim parks in your community!

Swimming is a great way to cool off in those summer months.

Go see a Baseball Game

Major League, Minor League, or even local High School or Little league.  Americas National Pastime is the perfect escape from the every day grind.  Tickets even for Major league games (depending on your local team) are even affordable. Tickets for our Salt Lake Bees are as cheap as $10 per person, making it a cheap family outing.  Most Major and Minor league teams have AMAZING food stalls as well, so you can go get your grub on at the same time.

Visit a National Park

With 60 national parks across the country, there are a lot of opportunities to explore the beauty of our country.  A lot of the times, there are amazing camping spots available for fairly cheap.  Creating these memories with your spouse or children will be some of the highlights of your life.

Wacko for Waco: Texas- Part 1

Wacko for Waco: Texas- Part 1

Boy do I love to travel.  I love the idea of getting in your car or hopping on an airplane and in a few hours be someplace you have never been before.  Far too much we just get comfortable with our little 20 mile radius.  Well, I recently had the opportunity to hop in the car and travel to someplace I have been wanting to visit for quite a while.

The Lone Star State. The greatest state in the Union. The Republic of Texas.

It has been on my list of places to visit and we had an opportunity to take a road trip to see my Brother and Sister in Law in Waco.  Now, I’ve traveled a fair amount in my life and I can honestly say my favorite place to visit is definitely Waco. Home to Baylor University and Chip and Joanna Gaines.  There is so much character to this quaint little town.  When I say it is a little town, it’s not.  It is actually pretty huge, but still carries the small town charm that you come to expect from rural Texas.

You can see and feel the history on every corner. My husband and I enjoy traveling together, my favorite way to get there is by car. There is something about going on a road trip. Feeling the wind in your hair, being able to forget about all responsibilities and just letting loose! This is also one of my favorite ways to reconnect with my husband after months of the daily grind.

We arrived in at my Brother in law and Sister in laws home in Waco pretty late Saturday night. After driving all day it was just time to sleep and get ready for the days ahead. Sunday Morning came, which coincidentally was the day of the Superbowl, being huge football fans we knew we would spend that night watching the game.  By the third quarter it was pretty much over and we decided to get exploring.

Torchy’s Tacos

Starting our day out around lunch time my brother in law said that he had the perfect place for us to eat. Now I’m a picky eater so trying new places terrifies me! He suggested a little taco shop called Torchy’s. It should have immediately hit me when you pull in and the sign says “Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos.” For me to sit here and tell you that it was just good would be a lie! I dream of that place! They have such a fun upbeat atmosphere with all kinds of different combinations plus they have their own craft sodas and let me tell you the craft root beer was delicious!

There is no better taco joint than Torchy's

There is no better taco joint than Torchy’s

 

Hey Sugar!

After our incredible lunch, my sister in law mentioned this cute candy shop. We pull up and it is a thing of beauty.

It is in this old building surrounded by buildings that you just knew were so full of history. We walked in and it was like stepping back in time. Such an old time soda shop kind of feel and I instantly just felt so at home in a town that I have had no connection with. We walked in to bins of candy and bottled soda that ranged in flavors such as bacon and pickle to cotton candy, ranch and banana. Not exactly appetizing but still fun for a good laugh! They also had an ice cream stand with tons of unique flavors. One of them being Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whisky flavor. My husband who doesn’t drink at all and me who drinks very little decided to give it a try! He wasn’t a fan, I didn’t hate it but it wasn’t something I was going to order in a waffle cone.

Bailey's Irish Cream Truffle

Bailey’s Irish Cream Truffle

They also had a counter of gourmet treats. I ended up getting a Bailey’s Irish Cream Truffle. it is as beautiful as it was delicious.

Next time you visit Waco make sure to stop by Hey Sugar! You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

 

Magnolia Market at the Silos

Now…Lets get to the biggest reason I went to Waco besides seeing my husbands family. Magnolia! I have followed Chip and Joanna Gaines for years. When I got the chance to visit I couldn’t pass it up.

When you arrive you see the beautiful silos and bakery. Everything about this place is magical. The shopping and beautiful home decor is a dream. It is so hard to walk out and not buy everything you see.  They have shirts, decor, pillows, everything you could ever think of to decorate your home in the classic Texas modern farm feel.In the front of the silos they have their own bakery which serves the most amazing baked goods, cookies, cupcakes, and a whole lot more. Once you get through the shopping and out into the yard you see games, benches, and plenty of food trucks to choose from.

The overall experience of Magnolia Silos was incredible! Relaxing and fun way to spend the day with family. It is kid friendly as well so don’t be afraid to bring the entire family.

Beautiful Rustic Silos highlight the experience at Magnolia Market.

Beautiful Rustic Silos highlight the experience at Magnolia Market.

Overall my experience in Waco was incredible. The people are the friendliest in the world! Everywhere you go you just feel like you are at home. I highly recommend visiting Waco and taking in everything this magical place has to offer.  You will not be disappointed.

-Amanda

A Husbands Love

A Husbands Love

 

 

I have debated posting this picture to social media. 2018 I have decided needs to be all about self love and confidence in myself and my body. For anyone who knows me, knows how hard this is for me. I still may not like this picture because of my double chin but the look on my husbands face when he looks at me everyday was captured in one picture. He loves me for all that I am now and all that I will become in the future. He loved me when I was 80 pounds thinner and he loves me 80 pounds heavier. To him I am perfect and I am going to try and see myself from here on out the way he sees me! So here it is, double chin and all and I am absolutely in love!

My siblings and I decided to get some pictures taken for Christmas this year. I am usually the one taking the pictures, being in front of a camera is scary for me. I met my husband in 2012, back then I was a skinny selfie queen. As we have gotten comfortable in our relationship like most do I have put on some extra weight (my husband calls it extra love.)

You see, I haven’t always been this heavy at this point I am not even sure I want to look in the mirror most mornings. Family and Friends always say well you are beautiful no matter what. (Thinking to myself, well they have to say that) But one day I woke up and said enough is enough! It is time for me to take my life back, to become that “Selfie Queen” again. My goal for this post isn’t to get people to feel sorry for me or pity me.

My goal is to inspire others to take their life back! Whether you have a little extra love or you are someone who just doesn’t feel good enough. I challenge you to get up everyday and say 5 nice things about yourself. Take a compliment and believe it wholeheartedly! Don’t let anyone tell you that you are not good enough! Because you are! You can make your life anything you want it to be if you believe in yourself! It has taken me 25 years and several horrible relationships later to finally believe that I am good enough! I can make a difference in this world and I am not going to stop until I do!