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Campers have s’more fun – Day 1

It’s been a little over two months since our trip to Yosemite. I still enjoy browsing through our pictures and remembering the unbelievable beauty of that place.
The Pack:
The first challenge of the trip: pack light. I knew we would be staying in “bear country” and those creatures have a thing for the smell of women’s cosmetics.  I tried my best to whittle down on the products I would need. (Cut me a little slack, this was my first time ‘camping’ and a girl’s gotta ease into that sorta thing.)
I couldn’t skimp on the essentials. I packed deodorant (my tent mate thanks me), toothbrush, toothpaste, and contact solution. Then threw in some other items for safe measure: my Aveeno face wash (I can literally count on one hand the times I have gone to bed without washing my face), Archipelago Soy Milk Powder (all girls from the hot South know to not leave home without their powder), and then a little bottle of my Makeup Forever HD foundation (I know, I know…I never claimed to be an outdoorsman).
These are the products I parted with for the trip: hairspray and styling mousse (full pony tail mode for this trip), Aveda smoothing fluid (like I said, nothing but ponytails here), Listerine mouthwash (just sticking with toothpaste), Pond’s cold cream (because I don’t want to wake up to a bear licking this off my face), and lastly my razor (sorry Mr. BEY, camping chicks are rough).
The Road:
We hit the road bright and early for our four hour drive from San Francisco to Yosemite. We stopped off in Groveland and ate lunch at the Iron Door Saloon, the oldest saloon in California. It gets its name from, yep you guessed it, the iron doors. These doors were hauled in on mule back across the Tuolumne River. They were sold to the saloon as a fire protection device. The idea was, if the town was burning, you just shut the doors and wait it out.  Hmm, must have been a good salesman.
The interior was straight out of an old Western. Dimly light atmosphere with some stray bullet holes, beautiful wooden bar, old dusty chandeliers and lots of area artifacts. Such a neat, quiet town – you should stop by if you’re ever in the area.
After lunch, we hit the road again. Little Elle was kind enough to serenade us all the way to Yosemite. (Not sure if her ears were popping or she just didn’t like the backseat entertainment.)
The beauty:
Just as she dozed off to sleep, we pulled up to this magnificent view point. It was like nothing I had ever seen. This picture is a pitiful depiction of the actual beauty. We jumped out of the car and just stood there taking it all in. It was just too much, I started crying. I even get a little choked up thinking back to that moment. Standing there witnessing this beauty with some of my favorite people in the whole world. 
It wasn’t just the sight of it, it was the sound too. You could actually hear nature; the wind blowing through the trees, the roar of distant waterfalls. I couldn’t believe I was going to actually get to sleep in this magical place. 
Smiling from ear to ear.
When Elle woke up, she was happy to be in Yosemite too, or maybe she was just happy to be flirting with Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder. I think she had a serious crush.
We stretched our legs and just took in the beauty all around us. Then shared a little somethin’ somethin’ from the Wawona Store…yummy ice cream to beat the heat.
Now, back to exploring…
We took a short hike to the base of Yosemite Falls. Soaring 2,425 feet, it is the tallest waterfall in North America. This year marked a 30-year high for water volume, so as you can imagine, it was a site to behold.
Yosemite Falls consists of three levels – Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. Here, we’re at the base of the Lower Falls. This is the place to come if you want to get wet. There is a constant icy mist and every time the wind blows, huge sheets of water soak all the sightseers. 

Similar to Muir Woods, the trees in Yosemite were absolutely stunning. A fuzzy, green moss covered one side of this tree (the side facing the waterfall of course!)
The Camp:
After the falls, we headed over to Camp Curry to check in and scope out the campground.
Everything was so beautifully rustic. The whole experience made me want to say, “I love A-MUR-I-CUH”. (That’s me making fun of a Southern accent, I know…the irony.)
Keys in hand, now for the real excitement…let’s go check out the tent!
Aww, aren’t they just precious! There is no better way to experience Yosemite. So simple, so quaint, so perfect.
Here she is…#942. You go first Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder, make sure there are no bears hiding in there. 

Talk about the “bear” essentials. No posh bedding or fuzzy bathrobes here. Just the good ol’ fashioned necessities. 
I know these signs are for my own protections, but really? Who wants to read that as they are headed to bed?
Never fear, Bear Savers are here! All toiletries, food, even water bottles had to be locked up tight. Those bears are mighty good sniffers.
Hmph…I feel safer already.

The view:
As the sun was setting, we left Camp Curry and drove up to Tunnel View. From this point you can see the entire Yosemite Valley including El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls. Imagining it being carved by glaciers millions of years ago made me feel like a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things.
We enjoyed a sweet little picnic dinner as we watched the sun dip lower and lower behind the mountains. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’d take a pb&j; overlooking Tunnel View than a gourmet dinner any day!
The sun dipped lower and lower and the shadows grew longer and longer. The sky swirled with so many magnificent warm colors. As night set in, the Valley transformed into an entirely different world. The mountains grew blacker and blacker in the distance like giant mammoths welcoming the cool darkness. No bright lights, no loud noises, just the gentle quiet of night and thousands of twinkling stars.
Night-night my sweet Yosemite.
The night:
With flashlights in hand we made it safely back to Camp Curry. I made myself go to the bathroom (twice), I did NOT want to have to make the trek to the potty in the middle of the night. We eventually got snuggled in our little bed and the camp’s mandated quiet hours began. It was so dern quiet. Of course something about this was absolutely hilarious to me and I suddenly got a bad case of the giggles. Some dude trying to make his way back to his tent ran into some bushes behind our tent and uttered a few words which sent me and Mr. BEY into fits of laughter. It sounded just like he was in the tent with us! Gotta love canvas walls.
It was so hard to just shut it all off at 10pm, we felt like kids having a bed time. So we decided to take some silly night shots. It was totally dark (except for the flash), I held the camera and snapped…
Mr: What? I thought is was gonna be a serious one.

Mrs: Okay, okay. Let’s do another one. I’ll be serious this time.
*Snap*

Mrs: What!? You dork!
*Fits of laughter…again*
We have so much fun with pictures. We have this little tradition when we are on vacation. We get in the bed, turn off all the lights and look through all of our pictures of that day. Ooh and ahh over our favorites and go to sleep with a guarantee of happy, happy dreams.

Posted 8/23/10, Topic: Blog

You ate what?

Ok folks, get ready to either grimace or drool…
I am not one to turn down a culinary adventure. I’ll try almost anything once. While celebrating my sister’s birthday at Matthew’s in Jacksonville, FL, a little menu item caught my eye. It was a little intimidating, a little mysterious and a little bit…um…rare.
{Beef Tartare}
Yep, that’s right. A juicy hunk of raw beef, finely chopped, served cold and seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. Now, before you get all grossed out on me, let me say that it was actually very good. I was kind of scared of what it might taste like. It was very flavorful; a beautiful blend of spices and that nice salty ‘pop’ from the capers. It was very tender, almost soft.
It’s not for everyone, but give the poor meat puck a chance. You should try it if you ever have the chance.
So tell me… grimace or drool?

Posted 8/21/10, Topic: Blog

Sack full of happiness


Money can’t buy happiness, 
but it can buy fabric,
and fabric makes me happy.
Oh, the fun treasures I have! Today I came home with a sack full of delicious fabrics.
I could just stack and sort these beauties all night.
I am in love with all the fun colors and patterns.
I could just spread them all out and dance a jig on top of them.
Or fling them into the air and let them scatter all over the floor.
Or fluff them into colorful wads and use them for a pillow. 
Ahh, the possibilities are endless. But alas, these colorful threads have a purpose. And you know me, I like to keep you guessing. So scratch your head and wrinkle your nose or let me know what you would do with all these lovely prints.

Posted 8/19/10, Topic: Blog

Make like a banana

The month of August plays host to lots of birthdays in my family: two of my sisters, my grandpa and my uncle. (If I have left anybody out, this is where I smile sweetly and apologize, then blame it on the late hour and the tired brain.)
Growing up, I remember being envious of the fun summer birthday parties. It just seemed there were more options for party activities: pool parties, water parks, playgrounds, etc. Having a December birthday, I never had an outdoor party with fun summer treats. Don’t get me wrong, I do remember some fun themed parties: sleepovers, movie night, and even an American Girl dinner party! (No, I’m not that young. This had to be the first or second year of American Girl dolls. I had Samantha, who I think is now discontinued.)
I think it’s just human, a little bit of the grass is always greener syndrome. Since I have yet to figure out how to move my birthday from the chilly month of December to the fun-in-the-sun months of summer, I decided to just embrace the summer birthdays of others and indulge in all of their warm weather festivities.

And nothings says, “warm weather festivities” like an old-fashioned banana split. So simple. One of my all time favorite treats! To celebrate my sister and grandfather’s birthdays, Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder and I put together a Banana Split Bar, complete with homemade chocolate and strawberry sauces. Yum!

You would think with as much as I love this delicious treat I would have banana split bowls. Sadly I don’t…yet, so we sweet-talked Sonic into sharing (err selling) some of theirs.
I think it’s safe to say the Banana Split Bar was a refreshing change from the traditional cake and ice cream…but it wouldn’t be a birthday without candles. We stuck a little flicker in their split to make the celebration official.

Happy birthday all you August babies! Enjoy all your pool parties and water balloon fights. I’ll be thinking about you when my chilly winter birthday rolls around.

Photos by: CMJ

Posted 8/17/10, Topic: Blog

Jae’s Play Kitchen

Some little girls deserve it all.
Making this play kitchen was one of the funnest projects I have ever done. Could it be because I got to step out of my comfort zone and into the world of little people? Could it be because I got to work side-by-side with my Mister? Or could it be that the proud recipient of this play kitchen happens to be one of the sweetest little girls I know? – Yes. Yes. Double yes.
I have seen tons of cute play kitchens floating around in blogland – some made from repurposed nightstands, others made from random Ikea furniture, and some made from scratch. Tons and tons of great inspiration out there. I just fell in love with so many of them. Reading through the descriptions of some, I noticed one used beadboard for the backing. Ding! (Light bulb above my head).
All the thoughts came rushing together. We had a lonely piece of beadboard just chilling out in our bedroom (I know, long story) and darling Jae’s birthday was right around the corner. How perfect! I knew right then I had to sweet talk Mr. BEY into tackling this project with me. 
I know he gets on board with most wild-haired projects of mine, but I was pretty sure he would flip when I said I wanted to build a play kitchen from scratch in less than two weeks! I drew a sketch of what I had envisioned and he said, “Ok.” Wait…ok? That’s it? You’ll help me? 
Gosh I love that man.
Mr. BEY took my sketch and worked out all the measurements, while I picked out paint colors and fabric swatches. We each had our own roles in this little kitchen wonder. Mr. Blue Eyed Yonder pulled out the power tools: measuring, cutting, nailing, sanding, painting – that’s his kind of thing.
I whipped out all the pretty stuff:  measuring, cutting, stitching, snipping – that’s my kind of thing.
We worked together scouring store after store for a stainless steel bowl with a lip, a mini faucet, the perfect hardware and even a little light for the inside of the oven.
Piece by piece it started to come together. We were absolutely smitten!
When I saw our creation sitting so daintily on our living room floor, my head started churning out some more ideas. (Never mind that it’s midnight the night before her party, when has that ever stopped me?)
I decided to make a matching mini-towel. Using the scraps from the sink curtain, I whipped up a cute hand towel addition. At first it just had ruffles, but it looked a little bare. Ah-ha! It’s a birthday party, why not add a cute cupcake to the towel. I hand-traced the cupcake and attached it to the towel with iron on fabric adhesive. I then ran upstairs to scour my stash of buttons for the “cherry on top.”
Ta-da! This impromptu towel turned out to be one of my favorite features. But alas, I didn’t stop there. Every kitchen has to have a nice vase of flowers. So, at 1 am, picture me wandering around my house looking for something “vase-like” to use. I ended up using an empty paper towel roll. I trimmed off some of the height and wrapped it with matching fabric. I then hot glued it to a round foam base so it would stand on its own.
**My thumb throbs telling you this story. As I attempted to hot glue the vase to the foam base, no hot glue seemed to be coming out of the gun. I turned the gun around to take a look at it and a big glob of piping hot glue dripped out and landed on the knuckle of my thumb.

I had no time to decide what to do, my instincts just took over and I immediately tried to rub the glue off. Duh, it’s called ‘hot’ glue for a reason. In attempting to get the hot glue off my knuckle, it stuck to my other fingers and began burning them as well. I kept trying to rub off the hot glue when I realized something…that’s not hot glue I’m rubbing off…that’s my skin! Eww!

Way #157 that I do not want to die: Death by hot glue gun.
For the flowers, I used tissue paper to make mini-dahlias and attached them to wooden dowels. At this point, me and my throbbing thumb went happily to bed. 
Our little kitchen was a lot of work, but we loved every minute of it (minus the hot glue minute). Such a precious surprise for such a special little girl.
Needless to say, Jae loves her play kitchen. She likes cooking breakfast, washing dishes and ‘drinking’ out of the tap. She even knows stuff out of the oven is “hot”.
Because of the positive feedback and the fun we’ve had making this kitchen, we have decided to take orders for more play kitchens. Yay hooray!
And of course, feel free to email me at blueeyedyonder{at}gmail{dot}com if you would like more information.
A big thanks to Tammy Miller of Paris Miller Photography for sharing the adorable photos of Jae playing with her kitchen. Muwah!

Posted 8/10/10, Topic: Blog

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