Monday, May 22, 2017

Sequoia National Park...

In case you didn't know, sequoia trees are gigantic!  I remember first having learned about sequoias and redwood trees as a child and thinking how cool it would be to one day see some for real, but I never really thought it would happen (you may remember my experiencing this exact same feeling with the Anne Frank house several years ago).  When I discovered that Sequoia National Park was kind of, sort of along the way from Mojave National Preserve to my dad's house in Ventura, I just knew we had to stop to check it out! 

I am so glad that we did.  These trees are monstrous, but in the best possible way.  No matter how many times I tried to photograph them, I really just can't do them justice.  They are mind-blowing.  I would love to go back with a whole bunch of friends to see how many of us it would take to hug and actually encircle an entire tree!  

We did very little planning for this leg of our journey, which was crazy because we camped and I, at least, had never camped before.  Here's what you need to know: 

: If you're going any time from winter-spring, consider buying or renting chains for your tires.  We were here at the beginning of April and while the website said that we didn't need chains, it was only after sitting in line to enter the park for 30 minutes, that we were told that chains were mandatory.  We had to turn around and stop at 3 different places to rent the right sized chains for my car.  It ended up costing a ton of extra time and about $60 and in the end, when we finally made it through the park gate, they didn't even check for them.  Nor did we actually end up using them.  I guess my point is: if you own them, bring them and if not, cross your fingers and hope for the beset! 

: Camping in Sequoia is actually quite comfortable.  This part of the journey was SB's responsibility, but he didn't come up with much, so we rolled in with a few sandwiches, some salads, fruit, and non-perishable snacks and a tent.  This was all well and good, as the campsites each had: a fire pit, a grill, a picnic table, a bear locker, a parking spot, and a place for your tent.  We each had a sleeping bag and since I didn't know if I'd like camping and didn't want to spend a ton of cash on a sleeping mat, I doubled up on two yoga mats and was great.  SB had an extra sleeping to lay on, but he said he still felt the rocks on the ground beneath him.   There were bathrooms with flush toilets and running water on the site, which made me a happy gal.  If I had to do it again, I would have brought firewood, a cooler, and more food, but other than that, it was good.  

: Pack layers.  On our second day in the park, we woke up freezing (like, we had to get into the car, blast the heat and drive around for a bit to warm up), but by the time we started hiking, the layers were definitely being peeled off.  Because the elevation within the park fluctuates so much, the temperatures change quickly!  

: Hug the trees.  Seriously.  I'm not even kidding.  I've posted before about the health benefits of hugging trees and these are the biggest trees in the world.  If there's anything that the world needs right now, it's more hugs and if you can get some clean oxygen and positive vibes from doing it, what's there to lose? 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#SustainableSunday + repurposing old clothing...

Swallow's Heart arrowhead necklace, GlobeIn gold pendant necklace, Charlotte Russe denim jacket, casual outfit, teacher outfit, sustainable fashion, re-purposed clothing

It's #SustainableSunday and this week, I am all about re-purposing!  On a recent Instagram scroll, I came face-to-face with the fact that the garment industry isn't always the best for the world.  The use of water alone (like 5,000 gallons to produce one shirt and one pair of jeans) is insane.  And don't even get me started on the pollution and waste created by the industry. 

That being said, I'm on a mission to seriously reduce my rate of clothing consumption.  This is easier said than done, because like most people, I enjoy having a bit of change in my wardrobe.  When outfits get blah, I get to feeling blah, and I just don't have time for that! 

Now, I'm super lucky, because when I fell in love with fashion in high school, my mom gifted me with a sewing machine, a serger and let me sign up for the "clothing" elective.  I went on to college to pursue fashion merchandising and design, so I have some background in how to manufacture clothes.    Now that I'm cutting down on consumption, but am also trying to purge the things that I own but do not use (thanks, minimalism), I've been taking old garments apart and remaking them.  This shirt used to be a skirt and a bedsheets, but now is a pretty adorable (not to too my own horn) top that was perfect to wear to work and then out to fika with SB!  

Now I'm on a mission to see how many old things I can make new!  

What do you think? 

What's sustainable about this outfit? 
: the shirt was repurposed
: the earrings are handmade and fair trade
: the tag necklace is handmade and fair trade
: the arrowhead necklace is handmade 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kelso Sand Dunes...

I wrote on Monday about the epic-ness that is Mojave National Preserve.  That post was all about how awesome the ring trail at Hole-in-the-Wall was, but we ended our day with what we thought would be a nice, easy hike in the sand dunes. 

What we didn't realize is that the Kelso sand dunes are up to 650 ft. tall at any given time.

For real, this was the most difficult hike I've ever embarked upon.  The wind was blowing like crazy and was whipping the sand around, the dunes were shifting, and because I ended uprearing leggings with my ankles exposed, my boots completely filled with sand every few steps.  I lost track of the number of times that I wanted to give up and turn around, but I took lots of breaks to breathe, regulate my heart rate and hydrate and with quite a bit of pride, SB and I made it to the top.

... where we were promptly totally and completely sandblasted in the wind and then it only took about 7 minutes to jog/roll/tumble back down the dunes to the car! 

Monday, May 15, 2017


Well friends, I've finally done it.  I've found the exact space on earth where I fit in!  And it's here, on the Hole-in-the-Wall trail at Mojave National Preserve.  SB and I were lucky enough to get a week off to do some exploring and so exploring is exactly what we did!  Our first stop was Mojave National Preserve, in California, just over the Nevada border.  Turns out, we've passed this place on every single one of our trips to my dad's in Ventura, but we never realized it.  Since our final destination was Ventura, we decided to check this place out. 

I seriously cannot wait to go back to explore this place again.  It has a huge and dense Joshua tree forest, petroglyphs, awesome trails, sand dunes, and some lava tubes that we'll have to rent a Jeep to come back and explore over summer break.  

One of the coolest things that we did was hike the Hole-in-the-Wall trail.  I know I've mentioned recently that one of my favourite things to do in life right now are things that make me feel strong, and for real, this trail made me feel like a warrior.  The rocks are all volcanic deposits and the holes in them were caused by the heating and cooling of magmic gases.  The mountains seriously look like Swiss cheese and were crazy fun to climb up and crawl around in (after searching them for snakes and spiders, of course), but the best part about this trail were the rings.  On several narrow passes, metal rings have been screwed into the sides of the rocks to help hikers climb.  I'd never seen anything like this and with just one small boost from SB, even with my bad knee, I was able to make my way up both ring passes like a champion!  

The views from the top of the trail were epic and as I said before, I cannot wait to make another trip out here! FYI- You can make it to this train without a high clearance vehicle! 

Thursday, May 11, 2017


Illufuchs hand-painted leggings, Mountain Lust Jewelry antler pendant, Jessica Ricci Jewelry Buddha amulet ring, casual outfit, boho outfit

Holy cow, am I ever behind!  Friends, I think that this must be the life of a teacher.  Every time one thing gets crossed off of the work to-do list, 6 more things make their way onto said list and since it's the end of the year, the window for completing these tasks is quickly closing!  

That being said, I cannot wait for the summer.  I am SO looking forward to spending more time doing things that I love i.e. sharing my greatest handmade and sustainable finds here and as a little preview, I have got to share these leggings with ya'll!  

They are hand-painted with bleach and I think that they're the coolest!  As someone who loves to be covered in henna, but who can't always find affordable henna, these leggings are an awesome trade off!  They came to me all the way from my former homeland (aka Deutschland) and wearing them over spring break in California and at work have both earned them TONS of compliments.  

Ira at Illufuchs is an absolute genius!  She has worked wonders with a bleach pen and I highly recommend that you check out her shop!  She's got a few other designs (a Hamsa hand and a lotus, among them) that will make anyone with a happy hippie heart feel some serious leggings joy! 

What's sustainable about this outfit? 
: the top was thrifted
: the necklace is handmade (from ethically harvested deer antler)
: the jewelry is handmade
: the leggings are handmade
: the sandals are made from recycled yoga mats


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Getting stronger...

One of the things that I've realized in the recent past is that along becoming afraid of many things, I'd started to feel weak.  I suppose it's easy to feel that way when you've moved to a new place, don't know anyone, and have a job that really tests your limits.  

Since August, I've taken on the desert lifestyle, began living alone for the first time in my life, and very quickly sank into a depression that was likely brought on by my job.  That depression took the zest out of my life.  The things I usually enjoyed couldn't hold my interest.  All I wanted to do was sleep and that was the one thing that I could almost never do.  This wasn't helped by the fact that SB was finishing up grad school and spent his weekends doing homework.  Any time I felt adventurous, he couldn't accompany me and I didn't want to be all alone in the desert, so I'd just stay at home and wallow.  

Once I hurdled my fear of long-distance driving, things got a bit better.  I'd regained some freedom and my mind started to feel stronger.  When SB finished school, we started to re-gain our joint adventurousness and started visiting all sorts of National Parks (stay tuned for more pics!).  Now that my brain is back on track, I've found that making my body strong is one of my favourite things. 

Through college, despite knee injuries, I was incredibly active.  In Germany, teaching dance kept me constantly moving and I always felt in shape.  During my darker days this year, I started to notice that my body had deteriorated along with my mind and now that I'm back, I am ready to rebuild myself!  

These desert hikes have done wonders for both body and soul.  Even when all I've done is scramble up a little hill, I feel strong.  It's my favourite feeling.  

What do you do to feel strong? 

... and on a side note, these photos are from Artist's Palette in Death Valley National Park.  The rocks are super colorful due to chemical reactions after volcanic eruptions.  I've heard that the mountains look even cooler at sunset, but I was totally happy with the views and snaps that we got.  This place was super fun to hike around in and if the weather isn't over 90, I'd highly recommend that you spend a few hours playing on the colorful mountains here!