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!


That Target Lamp

Last Wednesday, I went ahead and spent some of my birthday on that Scandinavian-inspired floor lamp from Target that popped up in lots of blogs this summer (here, and here, for example). Overjoyed at my luck that they had one left, and stoked that it was now on clearance– $20 off! I nabbed it up and rushed home to assemble it.

The box was slightly torn at the opening, which should have been my first clue. The lightbulb that was supposedly included was missing, clue number two. Nonetheless I unwrapped, assembled, located a lightbulb (much too bright of one– gotta go shopping and get a gentler one), and set it up just so in a dark corner of the living room.

Target Lamp

Looks great, right? Good location, the gray goes with the frame and the couch… And makes a nice “triangle” with our entryway light and the other one that’s across the room near the other, green couch where we watch TV. (click here for bearings within the living room).

Target Lamp

Cue the sad sitcom sound effects… The wood is curved! See how it leans!!

I should have known something was up, like perhaps someone already discovered it was curved and returned it to the store! Oh well. We have some ideas for a DIY fix. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Wedding Registry Tips

Summer is here, and with it Wedding Season. My sister’s getting married, and a flock of couples on my Facebook feed have just gotten engaged! I decided to draw on my knowledge and experience of registering and helping others register to share a few tips.

In-store vs. online

I always, always, always, recommend registering in-store first. It’s hard to know what a product is really like until you see it in person. Take the time to hold the flatware in your hand, hold up the towels with an accent color–picture how these items will be in real life. Feel the bedding and make sure it’s soft enough–or does it seem cheap? There’s nothing worse than receiving a registry item that falls apart less than six months later. What a waste of your time and your friends’ money! That said, it’s very convenient to add more items online as those you registered for get discontinued or if the date approaches and many items have already been purchased, especially if you have seen the items in-person ahead of time.

Wedding Registry Tips

Items: 1, 2, 3

Fill the Home

If you’ve lived on your own for a while, there is a good chance you have enough “stuff” to fill up a house. Use this opportunity to fill in the gaps–to replace the ratty towels you used for 4 years in college, or the toaster that still technically works, but you suspect will cause an electrical fire any day now, for example. Register for a few nicer pieces of cookware, to replace the $5 skillet you got from IKEA a while ago. If you’re just starting out, this is a good time to get the basics. Registering at somewhere like Target is great for someone who needs everything, just know that many items will wear out much more quickly than their higher-end counterparts, and it will be up to you to replace things. (Example: I am approaching the 3-year mark and have begun replacing the cookware I received from my Target registry, as it is wearing out).

Wedding Registry Tips

Items: 1, 2, 3 

“Forever” items

If you’re getting married at an early age and have a whole home to fill, it’s tempting to register for quantity over quality. However, there are gift-givers who truly want to give you an item that will last forever. Don’t be afraid to include a few “forever” items in your registry… for some people, fine china (around $150 per place setting) is still a priority. For others, a high-end juicer or Vitamix ($650) is something they would use daily as part of a healthy lifestyle. Remember that it’s common for people to pitch in together to get a big-ticket item! Don’t worry about looking greedy–just mix in a few high-end items with a majority of things at an accessible price-point. Remember, this is a big life event and many people want their gift to reflect that.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about registries without feeling greedy or like you’re a part of the Wedding Industrial Complex. I want to remind you that people will attend your wedding and most will feel led to bring a gift. This is because they love you and want to celebrate the milestone with you! Take all “wedding registry must-have” lists with a grain of salt and register for what you will actually use. If you don’t bake much, don’t feel pressured to add a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer just because all the kitchens in magazines have one. Be true to yourself!

Your turn: Anything to add? Leave a comment!