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!


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!


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…


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:


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.


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.


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:


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)…

The Patio

Back in Kansas, our friends had an awesome backyard that everybody simply referred to as, “The Patio.” Café lights were strung up at the beginning of March and it became the go-to spot for all gatherings throughout the spring and summer.

When living in a small space, taking advantage of every square inch is totally important. This applies to any and all outdoor spaces at your disposal, as well. We are lucky enough to have a decently-sized (9-ish x 5-ish feet) balcony that overlooks the courtyard and pool. It was important to me that we create a comfortable, livable, fabulous “outdoor room” here, and I feel like that goal has been met! Read on for details…

In an effort to bring a little bit of “The Patio” to our new balcony, we strung up café lights the day we arrived (I was extremely proud of myself for being able to swiftly locate them in the jungle of to-be-unpacked boxes) and put our folding chairs up outside. The chairs are not the greatest in quality, in fact we picked them up around this time last year at Target, clearanced for $4 each. I am not a fan of those ubiquitous plastic backyard chairs nor have I ever been a fan of the fold-up camping chair (comfortable, sure, but they look ugly to me). So, although our chairs might threaten to fold up with you still seated inside, they look iconic and remind me of childhood summers. Perhaps later this fall as summer items continue to get clearanced, we may upgrade. But for now, I like these little guys.

The World Market rug that has followed me from place to place since 2006 may have found its final resting place here on the patio. We will see how the (admittedly mild) weather treats it. While we have an awning over the balcony, the rug did get rained on for the first time ever last week.

The day I put my reservation deposit in on this apartment, I set foot in West Elm for the first time (after spending countless hours poring over their catalog and website) and grabbed the blue dipped pot on sale. I am still trying to think of the perfect plant to put in it. The pot has no drainage hole in the bottom, so recommendations are much-appreciated.

Additionally, we hung up the nautical souvenir we got on our honeymoon in Maine, a Moroccan-inspired lantern (full disclosure: purchased in Dallas) and the Tibetan prayer flags Doug picked up for me at a flea market in London. These little bits and baubles were secured using zip-ties, much like the chicken wire that eases my neurotic mind (in regards to Mosey poking his head out underneath the rails). Looking up from a distance (usually from the hot tub) and seeing these efforts at personalizing our space makes me smile.

Although the company is different, at night, with the lights on, it does bring to mind The Patio back in Kansas. And the memories are good.