Father’s Day gift ideas

Father’s Day is this Sunday and here are a few ideas for affordable gifts:

Father's Day affordable gift ideas

If your dad, grandfather, husband, significant other, etc already has a lot of stuff, give them an experience! I’ve used groupon a few times (for things like house cleaning and hair cuts) but they also have travel deals and ‘things to do’ like skydiving, harbor cruises, etc. Lots of ideas that are local to your area and a fun way to try new things right where you live!

I’ve recently discovered Vimbly which has tons of activities, events, dining, tours, etc. based on your city. They have deals available in most every large city in the US. A few that interested me in LA were a zip line tour, paddle boarding lessons and a Latin eating tour of LA. There were so many activities that would make awesome gifts for Father’s Day!

I also love this waterproof dopp kit, beard oil and Stance socks. Stance has a ton of high quality patterned socks including professional sports teams.  I’ve already spoken my love of the Hydro Flask water bottle and I feel it’s a great gift for anyone since hydration is important and it’s super convenient to take anywhere since it doesn’t leak or collect condensation on the outside.

Hydro Flask // dopp kit// groupon // vimbly // beard oil // Stance socks

Fiesta Friday: links I love and things to celebrate

We’re currently on a staycation in Newport Beach! I’ll write more about it when we come back (from an hour away, ha!) but we’ve been looking forward to relaxing and seeing a new-ish place without traveling far.

Here are some other places I’d love to see one day:

Canada – I’ve never crossed the border north and was inspired by these pictures of Banff and Lake Moraine

10 things to do in Barcelona (my top choice would definitely be Camp Nou!)

6 reasons to visit Bolivia

My top 10 travel wish list

Road Trip

This last week we took a long, long road trip up the 15 to Idaho Falls to visit my sister, Emily, for her daughter’s baptism. While I’ve driven the stretch between Utah and San Diego countless times, there was something new to see: the Seven Magic Mountains! It’s a temporary (free!) public art exhibit between Jean, Nevada and Las Vegas. I love rocks and these brightly colored rock stacks in the middle of nowhere were gorgeous!

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

We spent two days in Salt Lake City catching up with friends, Dave’s family, seeing Melinda’s adorable baby for the first time, and eating a ton of food at places we loved when we lived in Utah (like Royal India, Moochies, Originial House of Pancakes, Park Cafe). We stayed in an AirBnB in Holladay that was a good experience. I sometimes prefer an AirBnB over a hotel because you have more kitchen amenities and often more space. This trip we stayed in a fully furnished basement apartment and when we moved to Texas we ‘rented’ out a townhouse for 2 weeks while waiting to close on our house.

It was fun to be with my entire family for the weekend! Now that we’re kind of all spread out, it’s rare that we’re all together. I loved seeing Brent and Tessa play with their little cousins and the opportunity we had to tour the Idaho Falls temple which was recently renovated.

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

We felt like we were on the road driving most of the time and the kids were pretty good considering the 4 days of travel and Tessa missed her nap almost everyday. We drove to Salt Lake, stayed for 2 days, then drove to Idaho. On the way back, we drove from Idaho Falls to St. George and spend the night before finishing the last stretch of the drive back to Chino Hills. This was Tessa on the drive, ha, ha:

We tried to pack new snacks for the kids, like treats they usually don’t get. We also planned a few ‘surprises’ to give them during the trip, new small toys and boogie boards (LCD e-writers) that were a hit with them!

road trip with kids

road trip with kids

St. George temple grounds ^

 

What to pack: favorite beach products

Since Brent isn’t in kindergarten yet and most kids are still in school, Wednesdays have become our beach days. We’re lucky to be able to take advantage of this time before the beaches get more crowded. Newport Beach is the easiest beach to get to from our house and the kids and I have been loving playing in the sand, wading and running in the waves and finding seashells.

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

We usually try to get there a little before 11 to beat most of the crowd and find close parking. We pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, snacks and water bottles in this insulated lunch tote and bring our towels and sand toys in mesh beach bags which are perfect for collecting all the sandy toys and quickly dunking the entire bag in the water to rinse off. Mesh bags are also nice since they don’t hold sand and are easy to clean.

One of my most favorite items is our over-sized beach blanket that comes with stakes and fold up into a pocket sized pouch. This blanket is awesome because it’s easy to clean, folds up super small, lightweight, is huge so we can all sit on it and is also soft so you still feel like you’re laying on the sand. It comes with 6 plastic stakes to hold it down from the wind. It’s quite perfect!  best beach blanket compact with stakes lightweight zomakebest beach blanket compact with stakes lightweight zomake

I also always carry a cell phone waterproof pouch. This is the same pouch I took on our river tubing trip in Texas and found out it’s really waterproof!

We usually only stay about 2-3 hours and feel very lucky to live within an hour of the beach.

My swimsuits and coverups are from DownEast Outfitters and Target, my flip flops are super old rainbows (my long time favorite brand), the kids’ suits and flip flops from Ross and Old Navy. Sand toys from Target or the dollar store. And of course, we always wear and pack sunscreen (lotion and spray)!

what to pack to the beachwhat to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach

what to pack to the beach for families and kids

Southern Utah Road Trip Destinations

One of my favorite things about Utah is the gorgeous national parks in the south. When we lived in Utah while we were still undergrads, we were able to road trip down with Angelica and the LeSueurs to Moab and Arches. The red rock is absolutely amazing. Thanks Aurora for this awesome and informational guest post.

[‘vintage’ photo from 2006]

Ultimate Utah Road Trip Planner

Late spring and early summer is the absolute perfect time to take a road trip in Utah, before the weather is too hot, and while all of the good attractions and parks aren’t overly crowded yet. Utah is a really unique state, and we have some of the most beautiful national parks that the country has to offer. Being a resident of the state of Utah means that we often take the beauty in our own backyards for granted, especially if you’ve lived in the state your entire life. There are some truly beautiful places in Utah, and if you haven’t been there yet, you really need to make time for a visit this year. Make a road trip out of it, and visit all of the national parks you haven’t yet. Whether you decide to hit every single park and attraction on this list, or just pick a few for a shorter road trip, this list is sure to be a hit with the whole family.

Arches National Park

This is a perfect first attraction, especially if you start in Salt Lake City, as it’s only about 4 hours outside of the city. If you get started in the morning, you’ll be able to spend the majority of your day at the park. This national park is over 40 miles of delicate arches and scenic views. One of the best ways to see this park is to take the 40-mile scenic road through the entire park, and stopping at the many trail heads and overlooks along the way. You can pick and choose which parts of the park are most important for you to stop at, and you can just slowly drive through the rest of it.

Canyonlands National Park

This park is only about 40 miles from the Arches National Park, making it a perfect second stop on your trip. This park is great for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. At Canyonlands, you’ll have incredible views all the way to the Colorado River. The Mesa Arch is a great short hike to take while you’re here, taking only about 30 minutes, but boasting some incredible views.

Colorado River

Despite the name, it’s still a part of Utah, in Moab. This is a great stop if you want to try some white water rafting. You could start the day with river rafting or maybe taking a visit to the Sand Flats Recreation Area, and then spend the rest of the day exploring the city of Moab and enjoying the local cuisine and scenery.

Capitol Reef

This stop will take your breath away with the petroglyph art and the colorful sandstone formations. It gets its name from the colorful rainbow-hued sandstone formed in reef-like designs. This is a really great stop for a family, as there are plenty of places for short walks, picnics, and even ranger guided walks and astrology sessions.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The pink cliffs and delicate red rocks in Bryce Canyon will take your breath away, making you want to spend more than a mere day here. Try to make the drive into the canyon during the sunrise, so you get the full effect of the colors and unique formations. Aside from just exploring the gorgeous backcountry, there are dozens of fun activities to enjoy here, including mule rides.

Zion National Park

A road trip through Utah wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Zion National Park. With some of the best hiking available in Utah, you could spend a few days here and still not feel satisfied. Some of the most memorable hikes include Emerald Pools, The Narrows, and of course, Angel’s Landing. There’s a great variation in level of difficulty within the hikes at Zion, and so there will be something for every member of your party.

Before you go:

Road trips are a great vacation option, especially if you have a large group that can all carpool together. But before you head out, do some preparation to make it all go smoothly.

  • Get your car tuned up. This article has a really handy checklist, especially as you transition from winter to summer weather.
  • Pack a lot of sandwiches and snacks so you don’t spend a fortune on pit stop food.
  • Make sure your hiking boots (and anything else that you wear) are broken in and comfortable!

Having a group road trip can cut down on gas costs, and also help split the costs of lodging and food. Utah is full of beautiful national parks, and you could easily spend weeks visiting each of the parks, and still have some of the beauty of Utah unseen, which you can save for your next road trip.

Take me out to the ballgame

Some of my favorite childhood memories came at the ballpark. Growing up a Padres fan wasn’t anything glorious since they’re not a super wealthy or winning team ha, ha but it was always very fun to go as a family, eat a hot dog, learn about the game, and watch talented players come (and go).

Since then, Dave and I have loved going to baseball games together. We made a goal to see a game at every MLB ballpark. So far we’ve been to 19 out of 30 ballparks! Luckily we were able to see a lot when we drove to the east coast in 2009 and again in 2010. When we lived in DC in 2009, we adopted the Washington Nationals as our team together. They were a fairly new team to the area (having moved and re-branded from Montreal in 2005). This was before they had many big name players so tickets were pretty cheap and we were able to see a lot of games.

We haven’t been to a new ballpark basically since that time but we have plans to go to Seattle and see a Mariners’ game this summer for our 11th anniversary!

Dave found the website where I got this shirt (below) and I love it because it’s soft cotton, has Bryce Harper on it, and isn’t super girly. I kind of hate sports team apparel that is pink or glittery just because it’s marketed towards women. Many times I’d much rather have the same design as a men’s store just in a women’s size and fit!

take me out to the ballgame outfit

take me out to the ballgame outfit

shirt from Level500 / Old Navy flannel / Converse a million years old 😉

 

Fiesta Friday: links I love and things to celebrate

things to celebrate happy weekend links

We’re nearing the end of California’s Super Bloom – a beautiful result of the heavy rainfall this winter. It has been beyond gorgeous!

Have you ever heard of Colmar, France?! Looks straight out of a fairy tale.

And as if I didn’t already want to travel everywhere all the time, here’s a great list of the Top 10 Cheapest Travel Destinations – where would you go? All of them sound awesome, especially Spain, Serbia and and Greece.

The Perfect Weekend

One of my earlier memories is when I was probably 3 or 4, around Tessa’s age, and we were at the beach with my family. I was collecting seashells all afternoon and had a full bag. Right before we were about to go home, we noticed one shell was actually a little hermit crab. It was gross to me and I remember being so sad (and probably cried) that I had to dump out the entire bag. This memory may not be 100% accurate because why we didn’t just take the crab out of the bag we’ll never know, ha, ha! Anyway, even though we don’t live super close to the beach we are excited to be living a lot closer than before!

newport beach

CA newport beach

This weekend Brent didn’t have any Saturday sports (the pee wee sports he’s been doing through the city rec center) so we decided to check out Newport Beach (which only took us about 40 minutes). It was a little chilly at first which was actually perfect because the beach seemed less crowded and we found a front row parking spot. I underestimated how much the kids would want to play in the cold water so we didn’t dress them in their swimsuits but we still had fun wading in the water, watching surfers, and building sand castles. Neither of the kids had any interest in collecting shells but were very into the waves. The weather turned out to be perfect and it was fun to see the kids’ excitement since the last time we were at a beach was when Tessa was 6 months old.

newport beach

newport beach

CA newport beach

After the beach, we went to Hop Doddy, which is a gourmet burger place that we had tried in Austin. If I had to compare it, it would be similar to Shake Shack in price and restaurant vibe but like 10x better than Shake Shack. I like Hop Doddy’s quality of meat, variety of burgers, the basic fries are very flavorful and they also have shakes which I’ve heard are delicious. Luckily for us, there are a few locations outside of Texas including  Southern California (the one we went to was in Tustin).

hop doddy classic burger

Because of all the rain this winter, the wildflowers are in full bloom and everything is more vibrant and lush than normal. It is gorgeous in Chino Hills with all the rolling hills and the highways lined with yellow and purple wildflowers. We wish every Saturday could be like this!

CA wildflower bloom

 

Fiesta Friday: links I love and things to celebrate

things to celebrate happy weekend links

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’re headed to an NHL game tonight (Anaheim Ducks vs. Buffalo Sabres)! We didn’t realize it was St. Patrick’s Day but it’ll be a fun way to celebrate. This will be our 2nd hockey game – the first was in DC to see the Capitals and it was so fun!

We’d love to go back to Ireland one day! We were in Dublin for a few days when we moved back from Edinburgh and I’d love to see the Cliffs of Moher:

cliffsofmoher

Love this dainty horseshoe good luck charm necklace: