Playing Favorites: Anza Borrego #ParkPride

Playing favorites… guys, it is something I am not good at. I would say I’m a person of good taste. I can definitely tell when I like something and when I do not like something. But picking a favorite   whatever  ? Not really my game.

When I was inspired by outdoor wear company Cotopaxi, whose products include jackets and hiking backpacks, to blog about my favorite park (National, State, or City park) I was at a loss. Would I write about Balboa Park here in San Diego? Mesa Verde or Garden of the Gods in Colorado? Hiking in Sedona which I just experienced for the first time last weekend? I could even mention Coronado Heights in Kansas… I think one of my favorite things about getting outside is that there are so many different climates and experiences in this wide and rough country, the United States.

Anza Borrego 1

The park I am currently groovin’ on is Anza Borrego [California] State Park. Located just a hop and a skip away from San Diego, it is a great location for an easy afternoon hike (home in time for dinner) or a couple nights of camping. Desert camping is so radically unique when compared to “classic” forest/mountain camping; it can be almost like sleeping in a moonscape. It provides a great variety and is particularly good in the spring before things get too hot (as in, like, this month and April).

The cacti and drought-tolerant plants that pepper this funky desert landscape are “so in right now” and make for cool photographs—just don’t get too close! I have a coworker that swears he will never go back because he got a zillion cactus needles in the leg. I guess that would put a damper on the trip.

Anza Borrego 2

As you may have heard, San Diego and the surrounding areas have gotten a historic amount of rain so far in 2017. Everyone is predicting a “superbloom” of desert flowers, so I’m sure you can guess what is on my itinerary for this upcoming Saturday: Flower scouting. I can’t wait!

Something I’ve been paying much more attention to in the past two years is making sure to get out and explore nature. Growing up in Colorado Springs, my parents were excellent at getting us out and about in the mountains and taking long road trips to see the country from the car window. Of course, there came a certain age where we were “too cool” to explore nature centers and would rather be at the mall. It’s encouraging to observe that the pendulum has swung back in the favor of authentic, outdoor experiences.

Anza Borrego 3

The US National Park Service turned 100 last August, and the centennial celebration is currently underway. Doug and I have some trips planned out for this summer, including Zion National Park, so we went ahead and bought our America the Beautiful park pass. It will surely pay for itself in 2017.

If you don’t want to buy the park pass because you don’t have a ton of trips coming up, please make sure to mark down the upcoming free weekends in April: the 15/16th and 22/23. There are 10 free days in total during 2017 but four of them are coming up real quick. Time to plan a weekend to be spent outside in our beautiful country!

cotopaxi_national_parks_x2_

To celebrate #ParkPride this season, you can get 20% off your purchase at Cotopaxi by using the coupon code REDBOOK20. It could help you upgrade or replace any of your gear or even help you start building your own gear collection. Or, if it’s a better deal for you (do a little number crunching), you can get $20 off of an order of $75+ by using clicking here. With that link I’ll get store credit too, so it’s a win-win!

I was prompted to write this post by Cotopaxi, a certified B-Corp, but it is not a sponsored post. 

I’d love to hear more about your favorite National or State Park. Please share in the comments!

Portland’s Color Scheme

Our trip to Portland this summer got me so inspired about modern-but-still-classic color schemes, especially on the exterior of homes.

I think one of my favorite things about Portland is the homes. We stayed in an airbnb in a family’s basement and the interior and exterior were both so beautiful. In fact, driving down any street you will be able to feast your eyes on some beautiful homes. The architecture style is often Craftsman, Arts and Crafts, Bungalow, and my personal favorite–one of those I previously mentioned plus modern additions and revisions. A modern fusion, perhaps. There’s even a cool hashtag for those on instagram– #housemullet.

My computer is giving me some problems, so I can’t create an inspiration board or anything for you right now. So how about some eye candy?

From 2012 “Portland Modern Home Tour.”
From “Steph & Phil’s Reimagined Victorian” on Apartment Therapy
From TinyHouseTalk

I think the magical combination is natural wood + soft green (or earthy purple) plus a pretty punch of matte black. Something to contemplate as the fall approaches… pretty color scheme for a dinner party, or a small room refresh, or outfit!

Plants on the Patio

I never knew it until living in our rental house in Kansas, but it’s actually really easy to grow plants, if you do so outdoors. Turns out, nature knows what to do to make the magic happen.

Take this jade plant, for example…

jade

About six months ago, it was literally a stem broken off of our neighbor’s larger jade plant. We stuck it in some water and waited… and waited… until it sprouted a root. Then we put it in this pot I stole from my mom’s backyard, with some soil we stole from a planter bed in the complex common area. The rest is history. It’s literally four times larger than it started.

Then there is the succulent garden I planted right before our mac’s hard drive crashed in… February, I believe? Here’s how it started out:

succulent garden

And now, this:

succulents_growing

The baby-plant vibrant green is gone (sad face) but the plant is going bananas. I took one of the succulents out since it was getting so crowded. The hen and chick plant now lives in its own vessel, a pretty pitcher I picked up at West Elm on clearance for about $5.

hen_chicks

I’m going to see if it survives OK on the coffee table, but the apartment is a bit dark so if it starts looking sickly, the move will be made back to the patio.

I also bought a couple more plants at Lowe’s a few months when my mom came down for the day. My favorite plant at our Kansas house was a Wandering Jew, but I left it behind since I was skeptical it would make the move OK. Now, I have Jew, Part Two! I love that it came in a hanging basket.

wanderingjew

Finally, the most beautiful plant in the world, a Croton. The name itself generates visions of prehistoric rainforests and I love picturing this very plant growing tall and shielding a nest of baby dinosaurs, or something. Crazy imagination? Maybe, but check it out:

croton

My patio is shaping up to be a very fun and plant-ful space indeed. Now if only I’d come across the perfect outdoor chairs to replace our beach chairs (which threaten to fold up when one sits in them)…