Family Camping

*This photo was a happy accident, as a kid all my dads photos of him and his birthday cake are of him with his eyes shut because he was facing into the sun. He still jokes to this day that this is a requirement. Though I have no cake I was facing into the sun. *

Well we did it, we finally went camping.  We’ve talked about it for the last few years.  My husband went with his friends last year, after I had bought him a decent amount of gear for fathers day.  I got him a 1 man tent for his birthday, & he got a grill for Christmas from his dad. He’d had a family tent in the amazon cart he was mulling over, I bought for us  as a surprise when I was buying myself some flower seeds. Basically, we HAD to go camping or all these supplies we’d been acquiring would be for not.  I grew up camping, and camping for my birthday is what I wanted to do.

I researched things to do with kids, planned to go to my favorite lake in my home state.  I pinned, I planned, I primed. Set plans with friends for the first time in years.  Memorial day was going to be a blast. Then we were blasted with rain.  Rain, Rain, Rain, Rain.  I pouted. We tried to figure out other things to do or other weekends to go, but this was our chance. Other weekends wouldn’t be as long for the both of us.  We looked at other lakes nearby.  The whole state engulfed in rain.  We both began looking at the surrounding states.  5 hours drive too far.  Then campsites filled. 9 hours started looking appealing. Colorado was out, we were not ready to deal with Bears.  Maybe next year. Missouri, rain also unless we were going in that 7+ drive.  Arkansas we decided was far enough south to get out of the rain, still a drive but we were determined to make it happen.   However, Arkansa is a state neither of us had been to in our adult lives.

In all of our research we found a few camping apps, Hipcamp, and the Dyrt.  The dirt I really know nothing about other than its like Yelp for camping. Hipcamp seems to be peoples property they allow you to camp on for small fees. Location and Amenities being the driving factors for pricing.

By Luck we managed to book Gateway Getaway in Arkansas because of cancellations.

We had a lovely time. We hiked. We glamped, we sat fireside, slept in a tent, we made ice cream in a bag, cake in a dutch oven, ate farm fresh eggs, chased a boy chasing chickens, swung in a tree swing, ate at a picnic table, and made coffee on the grill, & we cooked in cast iron for the first time ever.  I was certain we planned and packed in excess.  However, besides extra clothes there is only a couple things we didn’t use and they weren’t large items.  I am so happy we had to venture out of our comfort zone and find somewhere new to explore.  I can’t wait to do it again.  Below are some pictures of our trip in no particular order.

Top 10 glamping items we loved

*These are affiliate links, although to date I have yet to make a cent on this.  It didn’t take me long and if someone or a million someones decide to utilize these links I will be happy I made the effort.  So if you like the things we have & want the exact ones or something very similar I have found them for you.*
  1. Camping Lanyard with Hooks
  2. Plates, cups, silverware  you can get a whole kitchen set here if you want everything & it all to match. Having an actual camp set significantly reduced our waste but I know next time we can hands down improve.
  3. This adorable camping Rug it kept our tent cleaner, we played monster trucks on it & could have taken it on a picnic if we’d wanted to.
  4. These tent mats not apologizing for this it was my birthday & I was determined to glamp they made our tent cozy, cushy & quiet.
  5. Cots for us adults, this is not the exact same as ours we found one at academy last summer and the other at menards last fall when we thought I was going camping.  Elliott has had one forever from grandma. Its nice & the perfect toddler size but took up a good amount of room in the truck bed as the adult sizes fold down much smaller.
  6. Cast Iron Cookware
    1. Cast Iron Skillet – Once we got this seasoned it was wonderful to cook with. Do your homework people you will be rewarded. I found a silicone handle at Menard’s and snagged it. Very worth the extra few dollars, this link has one that comes with your skillet!
    2. Cast Iron Dutch Oven – this was so an extra only to make my Birthday Cake in, I hope to make this a yearly tradition! Honestly without this challenge I wouldn’t have done my homework and had any clue how to cook with or clean cast iron.  The lid for the dutch oven fit our skillet which was a bonus. I believe we have the, 12″ skillet and 7 qt dutch oven. You’ll need the lid lifter!
  7. Grill I loved the side tables on this! I was sitting there telling Dane how it would be great if we had a table next to the grill and saw these hidden below.  They were so handy!
  8. Tent This tent was great although the light didn’t work.  I’ll have to message Coleman to see if we didn’t do something right. Or if we just need a replacement part.
  9. Cooking Utensils and Dining Utensils – loved that these hung on the lanyard & easily clipped to the carabiners.  No hand drying to put them away!  No opening of  & digging in bins.  In fact the cooking utensils came out of my house so I’ll have to replace them if I want to keep them in the camp totes.
  10. Totes! These were nice for packing and keeping everything organized. We had one for tent items. One for Food & one for Kitchen Items. These are not the ones we had but I will be looking into because they are supposedly weather proof Plano totes

My perfect pancake.

  

    

Dad said there were Bears in this cave. Poor little dude. He made us b-line away from the second cave on this trail.  Although, in Devil’s Den he seemed to gain a sense of humor and made up stories about the creatures living in those caves.

    

  This is Blake, he did not like Elliott.

  

    

    

He was trying to convince me there were dragons & alligators in this cave. The hike to the waterfall was somewhat long with a 3 year old but we all made it.  It took teamwork & patience, and guidance from fellow hikers familiar with the trails as there were many somewhat confusing off-shoots on the trail.

Our campsite was very sweet to begin with, I think some of the little touches I packed set the ambiance, to fun and outdoorsy yet still comfortable.  I loved breathing in the fresh air all night and day long.  Cooking outside was fun and I feel like we were happy with how well our meals turned out.

    

I am particularly proud of my cake.  I offered some to our host, with the disclaimer it was slightly under done in the middle, yet I forgot to tell her it had no eggs, or milk so it was safe to eat a bit gooey.  She politely gave no true answer.  LOL, my coworkers scavenged it once they were brave enough to try it.  I did disclaim to them it was Vegan (excluding the frosting) so they were very big skeptics.

  

Little man was very sweet when we could keep him from chasing the chickens and playing monster trucks with the dogs.

    

We literally just got a swing like this for Elliott, and we’re considering bringing it but space did not allow for it.  Not to mention it didn’t come with tree straps so if you get one don’t forget the Tree Straps!

Extras that were nice to have but not necessary.

  1. Camp Grill – ours would likely be the XL based on sizing, I got it last year before he got the very nice Coleman traveling grill
  2. Elliott’s Balance Bike, & Helmut
  3. Solar Lights we got ours at Menard’s, and embarrassingly we didn’t think they worked or that they got enough sun in the shade but there was an on/off switch. Switched to off the whole weekend.
  4. Cute Car & Camper Salt and Pepper Shakers
  5. Table Cloths, I thought 2 was too many, But really was just perfect we had one water  proof one in a cute print I’d had from Elliott’s beachy birthday last year and & one regular traditional picnic print I got at the end of season last year from Target. I even liked the look of the round cloth on a rectangular table.  It glammed up the table & was nice to have a dry table after the rain.

Things to upgrade or add in

  1. A second cooler for just food or just drinks – with wheels!
  2. Pantry organizers / more rubbermaid – these saved so many things from the 10% chance of rain we got 2 nights in a row!
  3. A bigger water jug – I’d probably never buy this but a girl can dream Yeti Water Jug
  4. Fire poker but we could just find a good stick
  5. Water proof totes

See more pics of our campsite at their Hipcamp website! Gateway Getaway

Happy Camping All!

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Mom has a hobby 🦋🌿🐛🌻

I think its beyond healthy (within reason) to have a hobby besides being a mom. Mine is gardening. I love to be outdoors. Being in nature can 180 my mood.

Ive loved gardening since I turned 6 and my neighbor bought me mums to plant for my birthday. Possibly to hinder me from picking her flowers, but we’ll never know.

I watched the ants in at first horror that they were on my moms peonies. Only to learn they are part of the process. Accepting that bugs are an instrument & not all “bad”.

One bug that seemed to allude me was the caterpillar. I remember one that became a wasp. We tried once more but caterpillars don’t eat grass who knew 🤷‍♀️. But truly I only remember 2 my whole childhood.

I imagine we didn’t have many caterpillars or butterflies because of all the “iscides” used not only in our yard in the 90’s but the farming community as a whole.

When we moved into our place the old man that lived here before had plants and trees to welcome the hummingbirds. I added more of my favorites. Doing my best to have something blooming most of the season. I didn’t notice butterflies but I wasn’t looking.

Id say it wasn’t until I was pregnant that I noticed caterpillars. I banned pesticides and herbicides that year. I enjoy being barefoot in the yard.

Last year though was the year. I believe I saw a swallowtail. From there I slipped into a butterfly photography & identification rabbit hole. I learned my garden was already a decent butterfly and larva host spot. So I have begun to added add and add to further that as well as invite the butterflies I haven’t seen into my yard.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this year and last.

id’s listed as determined by application I downloaded

Beckers White

Hairstreak

Common Buckeye

Orange Sulfur

Checkered White

Cabbage White

Red Admiral

Hair streak

Comma

Red Admiral

Common Wood Nymph

Emperor

Comma

Pearl cresent

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Mom has a hobby 🦋🌿🐛🌻

Snowy Sunday

  • Coat – made by Kamik, its not the exact one but very similar. Here it is in blue and in a mossy olive. I personally think the moss one would be so cute on a little girl. However, they also have a pretty pink version for the pink lovers out there! I love how bright his green coat is I can spot him from a mile away. Its also nice how warm it keeps him. Possibly too warm! I was freezing while he traipsed around without a care! Did I prepare him too much for the cold? Haha
  • Boots – I should admit I don’t really give much if a flip about name brands. What?! Yeah, I know, it seems…Counterintuitive. But, its true. More about the quality here people his boots are Ugg (I actually had to ask my husband what brand they were as I typed this, and I bought them). They are easy to get on, no true laces, had high water/weather ratings, AND the kid helped pick them out!
  • Stocking cap – I can’t exactly remember where we got this red stocking cap. Probably in Lawrence at some boutique. We’ve had it forever it was the husbands first then it got washed in a pocket and shrunk. This cashmere one in grey looks like it’d fit similarly! I think I have something to add to my Christmas wishlist!
Snowy Sunday

Mommy planner

So, I fell into a role with Little Apple Families. My ‘title’ is large group events coordinator. Basically, its event planning for small childrens holiday parties. I will unashamedly admit, I absolutely love doing it. Do I go overboard? Likely. My hubs, mom, boss and fellow leadership team members would probably agree. Do I get credit for being self-aware? Hahaha. As they say, “do what makes you happy.” And it does. I am beyond thankful the team is eager to help. My family also rocks. Dane will occasionally admit he enjoys some of the crafting. My mom loves it no question.

Truly, I think the best part is that it helps E more prepared for everything that happens at these things the day of. Which in turn I feel makes the entire experience go smoother for both of us, sometimes dad too! Not only that but we get to experience each holiday longer, talk about them more, prepare earlier. Now it seems we enjoy the actual day of Halloween, Easter, Christmas, etc. because I was planning, preparing and READY before the last event or holiday was finished.

Loads of work at least in the research and planning department. But little man likes watching me cut, sew, draw, paint, glue, destroy my house clean my house eat sleep repeat. I occasionally let him sew which may be his favorite. 🤷‍♀️. I bet its the machine and I spent so long trying to jeep him away from it.

There are challenges involved with everything that goes into it. I actually like limitations. It requires me to get creative and solve problems. First and would have to be budget. We have a decent budget. However, we have 5 large group events to host throughout the year. Valentines, The local Saint Patricks Day Parade, an Easter egg hunt, Trunk-or-Treat, a Winter Holiday Party and a few potlucks in between. Besides new members who join throughout the year we collect dues at the beginning of the year and our last party is our largest expense. Special guests and venues can be expensive! So we have to mindful of doing things on the cheap all year long.

The next biggest challenge would be durability (not even going to talk about storing this stuff but storage is a factor). I have to make things that will last through 60 some kids. Creating things I have no attachment to but that I think will be enjoyed and are worth the time and effort if it doesn’t survive. I don’t need to be secretly crying on the inside over kids party items. This stuff has to be something I truly mind the destruction of. After the first event I helped organize I learned to anticipate damage.

Speaking of lessons learned, at last years Holiday party I realized I hadn’t planned very well. There was no accounting for the amount of work set up. No plan of attack. No concept of how much time it would take to set up. Lets also acknowledge I was not mindful of how long cleanup would take either. 🙄 We had too many crafts, too many tables, too many chairs out, to then put away. I had activities I made that didn’t get set up because I brought decor that took too long to set up. And all of us had small children in tow.

Valentines went smoother. I was for sure more cognizant of set up time, cleanup time and scaled back on how many crafts. This saved me prep time and I learned to start planning crafting deciding well in advance. Evolution? I’m evolving right? Maybe developing & improving are better words to describe the process.

So here I am about a month out from the Winter Holiday Party. Nearly everything is planned out.

Date ✅ Time ✅ Venue ✅ 🎅🏽 ✅ Activities✅ Crafts nearly decided just need narrowed down and I think we’re on track to have costs at HALF of last years!

I even was a crazy person who went and measured the venue. In my defense, I wanted to see how I could set up activities. Where they should be and how much space I should allot….I want set up to happen quickly. I may have mapped it all out too …as long as my spacing for table and chairs is on target I think It’ll all fit.

Not only do I have set up & tear down goals, I also have goals for how much crap I lug with me.

My goals for this Winter Party are:

    one tote for food supplies

– we provide napkins, plates, cups, silverware

    .
    • One tote/box for decor

&

    activities.
    One tote for crafts

– Which may fit in the same tote as decor and activities!!!!

    One chair
    One tree
    And a few items that cannot be boxed or toted.

I’ll confess I have spent my own money on a few things here and there. I try to only do that for things I think would be fun to have as a family over the years, or for E to take to school parties. So far this year I’ve only spent $27. Hot glue being a big chunk of that. My crafter box is becoming hefty. And I’ve set my sights on a Cricut. Maybe, I’ll sell some of my crafts some day on etsy. I have the perfect focus group to test quality, functionality, and interest level. 🥳

Here are sone photos of past events. Keep in mind not a lot of time can be spent taking pinterest worthy photos. and sometimes photos at all. 🤦🏽‍♀️

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Little man and Monarchs

So far E hasn’t been terribly interested in the monarchs caterpillars or butterflies. He’s looked at them and I think is more entertained at how much I like them! He’s held a caterpillar and poked one 🙄 enough to irritate it but do no damage. They are now beginning to emerge from their chrysalis’. I put one on him today and by far that’s the most Interaction he’s had with them all together. Of course it got loose in The house. I was able to quickly capture him so we could release them in the wild.

I have enjoyed doing this, this summer. I may or may not do it again next year. It will be heavily dependent if we have travel plans or not. And if E has more interest. It really is time intensive. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever do it again just that I don’t see my self committing to the indoor reading EVERY year.

If I don’t bring them inside again next year. I will look into at least netting my milkweed to help boost their survival rate.

Anyways down to the good part pictures!

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