Our Camping Tips

Family time is what I live for.  Uninterrupted, quality time with my family!  My favorite times are always outdoors, sleeping under the stars in the tent.  Camping is one of my favorite things to do with my family because I get to see them without screens in their faces or mine, without distractions, and I get to see my kids using their imaginations and exploring.  Most of the places we camp don’t have cell service which scares most people, but there is nothing more freeing than not having to think about what’s going on outside of the world that’s right in front of your face.  You only think about what is right in front of you, and that’s all that matters.

Here are some things that we use to make our camping trips easier.  If you decide to take an outdoor adventure with your family we hope this list helps you!

Our favorite things:

Tempui Tents – One of the tents that we use is a Tempui pop-up tent on top of our FJ Cruiser.  It is so easy and only takes about 15 minutes to set up.  We feel safe and secure above the ground and the padding at the bottom of the tent is comfortable enough that we don’t need inflatable mattresses.

REI tent – Even though we love our Tempui pop-up tent, it isn’t big enough for our entire family and our dogs so we also have the REI tent.  It is relatively easy to set up and is super roomy with two air mattresses and three pups.

Yeti Cooler – Ok, I have to admit I was a skeptic because Yeti is expensive.  But my husband really wanted one so he brought it home and I complained about how it was small and heavy…. but this thing keeps things sooooo cold.  I mean, I was blown away that the ice was still solid after a full day in the sun.

Coleman Travel Stove – I am the cook of the family which means I’m in charge of the camp food.  I love camp food and I’ll link some of my favorites at the bottom of this post.  😉  The Coleman Stove we use is a propane stove with two burners and works perfectly for everything that we need to make while camping.  We also use the fire for some things like marshmallows.  😉

One of the biggest tips I can give you is bug spray.  I tried so many different ways to keep bugs away without using anything with nasty chemicals.  OFF won’t come near me or my family with its nasty chemicals!!  My mom used to tell me to use dryer sheets but that never worked.  I tried citronella candles and they never worked…. but once I started using essential oils I tried a mixture that works wonders.  I spray this all over myself, my kids, the tent, the fire, EVERYWHERE! As someone who used to get 10-20 mosquito bites after being outdoors, I am thrilled that this keeps the bugs away completely!  Here is the YouTube link with the recipe: https://youtu.be/_ktrxU55hnc

My favorite camping checklist:


This link has some of my favorite camping recipes, you will LOVE them!  Enjoy!!





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Revel Canyon City Marathon Recap

My second 26.2 was amazing!!  It went exactly how I expected the first marathon should have gone.  When I ran my first marathon, the LA Marathon in March of this year, it was 100 degrees and the heat destroyed me.  I was not a happy runner that day.  This beautiful fall day in November in Canyon City, aka Azusa, I was a very happy runner!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this marathon and I almost backed out and switched to the half because I just didn’t train properly.  I never got in a longer training run than 16 miles so I was worried about feeling the distance after those 16 miles.  Truthfully, I did feel the distance, and after 16 miles it really got tough, but it wasn’t too much to handle and I pushed through.

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The beginning of the day was not my favorite.  We had to be shuttled up the canyon by buses, and the last bus left at 5am, which meant I had to wake up at 3am, get out the door by 4am, and get on the bus at 4:30am.  I have a big fear of driving on windy roads in the mountains.  This fear was heightened by being on a big school bus in the dark.  I was freaking out on the bus!  I kept thinking, “yup, I would much rather run down this mountain than get back on the bus!” Lol!!  Once we arrived, it was beautiful out as the sun was rising over the mountain tops but it was freezing cold!  It had to be 30 degrees or under.  Revel is pretty amazing for giving us throw away blankets and gloves, they were so needed!  I huddled up with my blanket, gloves and Cliff Bar and waited an hour for the race to begin.  What I noticed right away was that there weren’t thousands of people crowding in.  There were a lot of people, probably about 800, but not nearly as many people that are at most races.  In fact, I’ve never done a race with this few people.  I LOVED this the most!  One of my least favorite things about races is weaving through a sea of people, especially when people stop dead in their tracks while running without looking to see if someone is quickly approaching behind them.  When I ran the LA Marathon I felt crowded the entire race, there was no escaping the crowd.  The only time I felt the crowd at Revel Canyon City was as we went through the start line together.  Right after the start line everyone evened out and there was plenty of space to cruise at whatever speed you needed to.  I started off with the 4:25 pacers because I thought that 4:30 would be a great goal time for me.  As we started heading downhill though, I found it harder to slow my pace than to just let myself go, so I did just that and let myself go at a comfortable speed.

So, the problem with being in the mountains is that there is no cell service, and no gps service.  Which you know means that my Garmin didn’t work correctly.  My Garmin lost connection a few times in the beginning so I had no clue what my speed actually was.  I knew I was going faster than I normally do but I thought that the first 13 miles were at about a 9 min/mile pace.  I flew through the first 16 miles with no problem at all.  It was gorgeous, and it was easy to go fast.  Mile 16 was the first really long, steep hill.  I did not expect this hill, and it was not welcomed at all.  I felt my legs burn as I headed up that hill and I started feeling myself slowing way down.  I had caught up to the 3:45 pacers and they flew up the hill and out of my sight… I was bummed but I knew that I couldn’t keep up for the rest of the 10 miles we had to go, I needed to slow down!

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Miles 16-22 were lots of rolling hills and it was pretty brutal.  I was feeling tired but not tired enough to stop running.  The volunteers at Revel were so amazing with plenty of water, Gatorade, and GU to get us fueled and through those hills.  As we approached mile 23 we were running into the city and the road flattened out.  It was so nice to be out of the rolling hills and on flat ground.  I remember feeling like I wanted to die on mile 23 during my first marathon, but today at Revel I felt strong and even though I was tired I knew this was something that I could do and could finish strong.  The very last mile was so welcomed and as I came around the corner toward the finish line I kicked into a sprint and put everything I had into crossing that finish line!

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I was praying for the clock at the finish line to show under 4:30, or right at 4:30 but as I approached I could see 4:33.  I was proud and so happy for a huge PR over my first marathon time.  It was tough to let so many pacers pass me in the last 10 miles.  Once the 4:00 pacer passed I thought to myself that I just needed to stay with the 4:20 people, and I actually don’t remember even seeing them pass so that was a bummer.  I really just wanted to finish this marathon feeling strong and happy, and I did!  My husband, sons and my mom were there to hug and cry with at the finish line and that was the best icing on the cake!  That’s truly one of the reasons I sprinted so fast to the finish line, I couldn’t wait to see their faces!!  The view couldn’t have been better, the organization was wonderful, and the medal is incredible.  I had signed my husband up to get text alerts throughout the race.  So when I checked his phone after the race I was blown away to see my half marathon time was 1:51 at an 8:28/mile pace.  A huge Half Marathon PR for me!!  I was so excited!  Revel Canyon City is a race that I will always want to come back to, and I would love to do the Revel races in Colorado and Utah some day soon.  This was without a doubt my favorite race to date!

Thanks to my hubby for the finish photo!!  And thank you Revel for giving free photos!


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Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter

I was so excited to be chosen to taste and review Might Nut Powdered Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter & Co.  Peanut Butter & Co. makes my most favorite peanut butters and I am a serious PB addict!!  What I love about this peanut butter is that each batch of Mighty Nut is created from quality USA grown peanuts. The peanuts are roasted, then pressed, to remove most of the fat.  What remains is protein, fiber and delicious peanut buttery taste.  It tastes so good, even without all the extra fat that you get from most peanut butters.

The first thing I did with my Might Nut PB was to whip it up and spread on some bread, which is always my favorite way to enjoy peanut better.  Second I decided that the chocolate flavor peanut butter would be amazing in a protein shake.  It was so good!!  It took my protein shake to a whole new level!  I just added one scoop of Mighty Nut Chocolate flavor with one scoop of Young Living Pure Protein Powder with some cold water.  You could also mix in a banana for even more flavor!  🙂

I want everyone to get a chance to try this stuff so I’m going to give away a jar to one lucky person!  Winner will be chosen on the morning of November 5th.  Follow directions below to enter:

Giveaway entry methods: 

  • Follow @GoMightyNut and @recipe4healthy on Instagram
  • Tag a friend in this post and comment why you want to win!

Giveaway restrictions:

  • U.S. only
  • One prize per person

One prize per person. If you win this giveaway, and have already won another prize from Mighty Nut through another blog, please disclose that you have already won so we can choose another winner. 






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Long Beach Half Marathon Recap

The Long Beach Half has been a race I wanted to run for the last couple of years, and it always worked out that I was working on the day it took place.  This year wasn’t any different, in fact I worked back-to-back 8 hour weddings (I’m a wedding photographer for new readers 😉 on Friday and Saturday.  When I registered for Long Beach I had a wedding scheduled for Sunday also but unfortunately it was cancelled a few months ago.  I don’t love running after weddings because I’m usually exhausted from working but this was my last race of the Beach Cities Challenge and I wanted that sea shell medal, so…. I decided to do it no matter what.  I was training for speed for the last few months and my goal was a sub 2:00 for this race.  I woke up Sunday morning at 4am, with only 4 hours of sleep.  With heat warnings all week the half marathoners were allowed to start an hour and a half early with the full marathoners.  I’m not a big fan of running in the heat so I opted for less sleep and cooler temps and started early at 6:30.  Was I exhausted?  Yes!!  Did my feet hurt from working?  Oh yes!!  But my heart was in the right place, strong and happy, and I was going to give today all I had.  My runner friend Iselda and I headed out to Long Beach and parked with only 10 minutes to go till the start time.  We quickly used the palace of potties (aka the row of porta-potties).  Which, by the way, I never thought I would ever get excited about porta-potties until I became a runner but sometimes they truly are my favorite sight!  We hopped into the starting coral and within a minute we were crossing the start line.  I immediately realized that the decision to start early before the sun rose was the best decision I could have made.  It was HOT and humid!  I started sweating with the first step across the line and the sweat didn’t stop pouring the entire race.  I was feeling great otherwise, and started with a good 9 minute per mile pace.  I love the energy of races and the thrill of passing people, especially the guys (sorry guys, but GIRL POWER)!  By miles 3-5 I was averaging 8-9 minute miles and the sun started coming up along the shore line behind the Queen Mary.  These were my favorite miles because it was just gorgeous and my energy level was great!  Once that sun was above me after mile 7 the heat just sucked the energy right out of me.  My right foot started hurting, which never happens to me, and I really would have loved to pause for a porta-potty break.  My pace slowed way down after mile 7 and once I realized I wasn’t going to hit my goal time my spirits went way down.  Realizing that you’ve been defeated is not a good feeling!  The last few miles were tough but I kept one foot in front of the other and kept going.  Even though I wasn’t going to hit my goal I was still going finish this race strong!  The last .2 of the race were downhill and I sprinted to that finish line and that part felt amazing!  Crossing that finish line, no matter what your time is, is an amazing feeling!  Whether you run, walk or crawl through that line you are still doing something that not many people will ever do.  I was proud to finish and proud to complete the Beach Cities Challenge and it was a great course.  I will absolutely do it again!



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How Swimming Can Make You Stronger

I am a triathlete but I most often call myself a runner.  I run more often than I swim and bike and I definitely do more running races than anything else.  Before I started swimming and biking I noticed my body had hit a wall, and I wasn’t really strengthening any other muscle groups.  Cross training became my best friend and the swimming and cycling toned muscles I didn’t even know existed.  Swimming provides a full body workout and helps with strengthening arms, core, torso, hips, and legs.  The best part for me was that it is a low impact sport, so when my legs can’t take any more of a beating the water helps to take the pressure off but still get good training in.  The most important muscles that strengthen during swimming are your heart lungs.  With regular swimming, your heart will become stronger and able to pump more blood with each contraction. Your lungs learn to absorb more oxygen while you’re breathing during swimming.

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9 Reasons why you should get in the pool from Active.com

1. Heart Helper
Swimming provides unparalleled cardiovascular conditioning, provided you practice consistently and with good technique. While other forms of exercise may be more effective at elite levels (such as running or cycling), incorporating swimming into a cross-training routine and pushing yourself in practice will result in overall improved fitness.

2. Balance Your Build
Swimming builds longer, leaner muscles that complement the shorter denser muscles that develop from weight training. These “swimmer’s muscles” also help boost metabolism to keep calories burning longer.

3. Cross-training
Swimming not only boosts cardiovascular capacity while increasing muscle strength, but it also gives your body a break from higher-impact activities like basketball, running, and weightlifting. By creating a balanced workout routine, athletes avoid injury by allowing their body time to heal, while not forgoing daily training sessions.

4. Increased Flexibility
A heated pool relaxes muscles, increasing flexibility and enabling important stretching. Also, after intense lactic-acid-building endurance workouts (running, cycling, weights), an easy swim helps flush out toxins preventing muscle tightness and soreness the following day.

5. Strengthen Your Core
Swimming develops core body strength because it utilizes all the body’s muscles simultaneously. Although 70 percent of a swimmer’s effort comes from the upper body, kickboard and fin workouts can provide an excellent leg workout.

6. Endurance
Swimmers are able to swim longer than they can what they could sustain doing other activities. With the right technique, a swimmer will be able to train for longer periods of time than if he/she were running and, as a result, more calories are burned.

7. Adventure
Swimming has branched out from the darkened, indoor community pools of yesteryear. Many new health club chains offer clean lap pools, and local communities are finding renewed interest in outdoor facilities during the summer months. Seek out available natatoriums in your area (swimmersguide.com) and if you are able, locate a natural body of water (lake, ocean, pond, or quarry) and explore the joys of open-water swimming.

8. Social Outlet
Imagine meeting the man/woman of your dreams, and seeing what they look like without their clothes on for your first date! That’s one benefit, at least, of joining a Masters team or triathlon training group. In addition to the possibility of romance fueled by mutual interests, team programs offer peer motivation and professional coaching to provide you with increased performance results.

9. Weight Loss
“People who consistently swim strenuously enough to be out of breath when they finish and elevate their heart rate do burn calories and lose weight,” says Jane Moore, M.D., a physician and active swimmer from Tacoma, Washington. “The key is to push yourself a bit.”

“Putting on a swimsuit and appearing in public should also motivate one to shed a few pounds,” says Kris Houchens, head coach of the YMCA Indianapolis SwimFit Masters.

Whatever your reason, or whatever the excuse of a friend or partner, that swimming has not been incorporated into a consistent fitness routine, the list above should illuminate the ways in which the sport can add to your quality of life.

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Back to school kids lunch ideas

Back to school is filled with so many exciting things and also so much stress!  One thing I always stress over is what to feed my kids for lunch.  They are not the typical sandwich and chips kids, even though sometimes I find myself going straight for that if I can’t think of anything else.  Here are some resources to help us all think outside the lunchbox.  😉

Rock The Lunchbox has so many fun ideas, I love their website and often browse the ideas there!

Look at this cute Minion lunch!  I would want this for myself!!

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Over at 100DaysofRealFood.com there are some great ideas!  They also have an ebook on sale till the end of August with some great ideas!


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Of course, there is always Pinterest, which has hundreds of ideas to look through! Check out my “Inside the Lunchbox” Pinboard here!


Have fun and get creative!  <3


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My favorite pre-workout fuel

There has never been a better way for me to get a boost of energy in my life than Ningxia Nitro.  This stuff is incredible!!  I’m not even kidding you, and I now buy this stuff in cases so I never have to be without it!  I am not a caffeine drinker, in fact it makes me very sick to drink any caffeine so when I found Ningxia Nitro I wanted to do cartwheels (if I could actually do cartwheels I would have done them)!!  NingXia Nitro combines 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils with naturally powerful ingredients to clear the mind and enhance mental fitness, while also providing a boost of energy and daily pick-me-up when needed.   I run faster, have a much clearer mind especially in the morning, and the energy carries me throughout the entire day.  Anytime I run out and am forced to run without my Nitro I perform with so much less energy.  Please don’t waste your health away with energy drinks, and give this a try!  You will thank me!!



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Beach Cities Challenge

This year I completed two of my favorite Half Marathons yet!  The Surf City Half Marathon and the OC Half Marathon.

Surf City was so completely gorgeous and always falls on Super Bowl Sunday, so you get the satisfaction of knowing you can eat pretty much anything you want during the big game.  😉  I did this race alone and I really was able to take in all my surroundings.  Most of the view is the ocean and it was so sunny that the ocean glistened.  It was perfect and I did eat everything I wanted afterward, including a burger, fries and shake at Ruby’s down the road.  My favorite post race meal includes burgers!!


The OC Half was beautiful as well.  It was overcast and the perfect temperature for running, in the mid 60’s.  Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling myself during this race as I had just been in the hospital about two weeks prior with a kidney infection.  This was no joke and had me bed ridden for two weeks so I had no good training runs and I really probably shouldn’t have been running, but I didn’t want to miss this race.  I took this one very slow and easy not worrying about time and just getting through without any pain.  I was surprised that I felt pretty good for most of the race and I probably could have went a little faster than I did but I was just so worried about my recovery from being sick.  My two friends who I ran with PR’d and I was so happy for them!!  I’m looking forward to crushing the next Half and getting a new PR!  Its hard to go backwards, no matter what the reason is.


From the day I signed up for the Surf City Half, I have wanted to complete the Beach Cities Challenge!  That is one of the biggest reasons why I did not want to give up racing the OC Half.  I just signed up for the last race of the challenge which is the Long Beach Half Marathon and I cannot wait!  I am trying to get my time to 2 hours or under for that race, and I think its definitely doable!  Can’t wait to see you soon Long Beach!!  This is the medal you get for completing all three races in a row, and it is super pretty!  LOVE that BLING!!  <3

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Tri Events – My Second Triathlon

Although this was my second Triathlon I consider it really as my first.  My very first was in a pool and was done backwards, with Run, Bike, Swim.  It was fun but it didn’t really challenge me.  The LA Tri Events at Bonelli Park was a great race and it was super challenging.  This was my very first time ever swimming in open water, and to top off the fear I had of swimming in unknown terrain, my friend tells me minutes before the race that most times when people get in open water for the first time they have a panic attack.  GREAT!!  WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS?!  I thought!!  But I was already signed up, geared up, and ready to race so I wasn’t going to let fear overcome me.  But, if I’m being totally honest here, I was terrified once I stepped into that water and the swim was not easy by any means.  People around me were panicking and trying to grab onto me, and a girl next to me started yelling that she was drowning.  Thank God for the lifeguards because I had no idea how to help her.  Eeek!  Thankfully I got through and as I walked out of that lake I felt dizzy and completely exhausted.  I walked to the bike transition area and yanked off my wet suit.  Problem was that I forgot to unzip the ankles and it took me forever to get it off my foot.  Once I was free I was onto the bike and felt free as a bird as I rode away.  The bike portion was super fun except for two steep hills that had me huffing and puffing, but the good thing about uphill is that downhill is right after.  Downhill is my favorite!!  After transitioning from bike to run I was pretty exhausted but the run is definitely my favorite part and I was excited that I was nearing the finish line.  Crossing that finish line felt great and made me thirsty for more Triathlon!  My next one will be the Long Beach Triathlon, and next year I’m planning on a Half IronMan.  Excited for the future races!!




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