Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net

Now that it is February, I think it’s a good time to start getting our ducks in a row. Last month was about catching up after the holiday season so now I want to start taking 2016 by the horns.

This week’s essential reading:

  • Read this first —-> An open letter to outdoor women on independence and bad relationships by Katie of The Morning Fresh. From what I saw on my side of the screen, Katie had a great relationship with a bearded guy from the climbing gym. They went on adventures together and crossed the country while living out of a van…but there’s always part of our lives we don’t share with others…or maybe we don’t see what’s really going on until it’s too late.
  • Have you considered keeping a journal or making a scrapbook to document your goals? Here are some tips for success.
  • I’m diving head first into the messier side of scrapbooking and art journaling. It’s very outside my comfort zone, but after playing with some paint a few weeks ago, I’m interested in trying some new things…like using gesso.
  • What’s art journaling all about? Check out a few women who created color-themed art journals to send around the world.
  • It’s a new year so maybe it’s time to update your LinkedIn account. I know I need to do a major overhaul to better reflect my goals.
  • And then let’s launch a YouTube channel already.
  • Are you making these 26 blogging mistakes? You could be losing followers and money.
  • Steph Davis did an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) post on Reddit earlier this month. If you’re interested in learning more about a woman who kicks major butt and is super focused when it comes to her goals, check out her responses here. Simply click on the context link under each answer to see the question and her answer.

And in case you missed these posts:


in Essential Reading

A few weeks ago, we got up early and headed down to Newport Beach to meet some friends for a pre-brunch hike around the Upper Newport Back Bay Nature Preserve.

With the great weather in Southern California, this is a year-round hike but it may be subject to the OC Parks’ 3-day closure rule after it rains so plan ahead if you are thinking of including this hike in your winter or spring plans — call ahead if you are concerned.

Newport Back Bay Preserve Hiking Trails - Campfire Chic

Alex and I parked on the street (be sure to check the signs in the area for parking restrictions) and our friends parked in the free dirt lot adjacent to the interpretive center. This is a popular local hike, so be prepared to get to the parking lot early in the morning otherwise you may need to park further away or not find parking at all on weekends and holidays.

Newport Back Bay Upper Preserve Hiking Trails - Campfire Chic

Upper Newport Back Bay Preserve - Campfire Chic

There is a network of trails that begin from this parking lot so be sure to consult the maps at the trailhead for information on where it is okay to walk. You may also come across signs asking you to stay out of previously used areas for habitat restoration.

If you live in the area and you have family visiting from out of town, I highly suggest taking them on the walking trails here. The views are spectacular and many of the trails are family-friendly enough that younger hikers can make their way without much trouble.

If you have a dog, be sure to bring doggie bags with you and to keep an eye out for signs asking you to please keep your pet out of certain areas. This is a nature preserve, after all!

Resources for planning your hike around the Upper Newport Back Bay Nature Preserve




in Adventure, California, Hiking, Microadventure, Orange County

Bouldering in Joshua Tree National Park - Campfire Chic

A couple of weekends ago, Alex went climbing in Malibu with a friend from the gym and as soon as he came home he started looking at our calendar to see when we could go climbing next.

Fast forward to a pre-dawn alarm going off to get us out of bed to go climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. We packed for both top rope climbing and for bouldering, just in case the routes we wanted to climb were taken by the time we arrived at the park. We didn’t pack much the night before so we were running a little later than we wanted and we still needed to make a quick pit stop for breakfast and to pick up our crash pads.

The traffic was great as we headed east to Joshua Tree…or at least that’s what I assume since I slept for most of the drive. Alex was a champ and listened to podcasts as his useless navigator slept in the passenger’s seat next to him. We went straight to the East Entrance for the park, which leads to Indian Cove Campground to see if we could get on some of the easier top rope routes there. Our late start ruined our changes of getting anything so we headed back to town in search of some caffeine on our way to the main entrance to the park.

Kam of Campfire Chic in Joshua Tree National Park - Campfire Chic

Teton Backpack for Rock Climbing Gear in Joshua Tree National Park - Campfire Chic

We stopped at Natural Sisters Cafe for coffee, iced tea, a muffin and a turtle bar (total magic, buy one if you get a chance). This was exactly what we needed before getting out of the warm car and heading over to the bouldering area at the Quail Springs picnic area (known as Trashcan in the Joshua Tree bouldering book). We also packed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, and a handful of other snacks to keep us going so we wouldn’t need to leave the park until it was time to go home.

We spent time at Trashcan, Split Boulder, and Hemingway Boulders. It was a quick trip and we wanted to spend time on some of the boulder problems we knew we could safely tackle with a tight schedule. I struggled with a few different routes but managed to make good progress on them and send (make it to the top) one before I had to call it quits when I started getting too much pain from my shoes (I had a big scrape on my Achilles that was getting aggravated by my shoes). The area around Hemingway Boulders is very well marked and the access trails are well-kept so there’s no reason to go off-trail if you can help it. Climbing is a huge draw for this park, so the rangers try to work with the climbing community to keep things running smoothly, you can even have coffee with the rangers some mornings as one of the ranger programs.

Zen Boulder in Joshua Tree National Park - Campfire Chic

Organic Crash Pad in Joshua Tree National Park - Bouldering with Campfire Chic

The granite felt great under my hands and being able to “see” the routes more than I did a few years ago gave me a lot more confidence in climbing outdoors. I learned a few things that will help me next time: don’t bring old shoes that are too loose, don’t leave all the snacks in the car, don’t worry about the route ratings.

We normally eat at Crossroads Cafe when we are in the area, but decided to grab a quick meal at Pie for the People since we’ve heard about the pizza place for years from other climbers. The slices of pizza are giant and there are lots of different combinations from which to choose…if you are with a big group, expect your large pizza to run around $20. You may also want to ask for extra napkins if you prefer to “blot” your pizza before chowing down…these NY style slices drip with greasy goodness.

Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park - Campfire Chic

Alex and I are so lucky to live close enough to Joshua Tree to visit for a day and climb and enjoy the park without needing to make an extended weekend of it. This time of the year is popular with climbers because the weather is cool but the climbing is still possible because it rains very little in the desert. If you plan on visiting any National Parks this year, consider purchasing a National Parks pass. These passes are extra helpful if you go to the parks often or are planning big trips that hit more than one park.

I am a few weeks away from participating in the Women’s Climbing Festival in Bishop and I’m really happy Alex suggested we get out of the gym so I could remind my hands what real rock feels like before I get to the festival. I’m very nervous!


in About Kam, Active, Adventure, California, Climbing, National Park, National Parks, Weekend

Alex and I spent a quick weekend away in San Francisco from December 11th-13th. We visited the Bay Area in early 2014 when we visited some friends but haven’t stayed in the city for a few years. It was a quick trip and we didn’t really tell anybody we would be in town because we wanted some time to just the two of us before the holidays hit and we’d be spending more time with family and friends.

Kam Goes To: San Francisco

2016 San Fransisco - Drum Bridge in Japanese Garden - Campfire Chic

2016 San Fransisco - The Mission - Campfire Chic

We stayed at Hotel Zelos near Union Square. It is above Old Navy and Levi’s, has a restaurant/bar inside, and offers a noon checkout, which is awesome for those of us who like to sleep in a bit or always seem to book late flights home. The service was fantastic and I would stay in this hotel again in a heartbeat. The room was spacious and the complimentary tea and coffee in the lobby each morning was a nice way to start our day.

Another reason why we booked this hotel: it’s very close to the BART, which is what we used to get to and from the airport. It’s in a busy shopping area, so expect to hear some city noises at night. We were also able to get to plenty of places to eat within walking distance, and we loved the boutique feel of the entire hotel. Seriously, if you can, book this hotel.

2016 San Fransisco - Chinatown - Campfire Chic 2016 San Fransisco - The Ferry Building - Campfire Chic

What would a trip recap be without a quick review of some of the restaurants we enjoyed?

Cha-Ya is one of the places we will always (always always) visit when visiting the Bay Area. We were first introduced to it during our January 2014 trip to visit friends and we ended up eating there twice that first visit. This time around, our friends didn’t even bother suggesting meeting someplace else, they knew it was best to just meet us at Cha-Ya. The food is delicious and I’m really upset that we don’t have multiple stomachs so I can order an obnoxious amount of food so I can get a taste of everything there.

It was my first time at Phillz Coffee and I’m hoping Alex and I head out to the new locations in LA soon. I loved the amount of fresh mint in our drinks and I won’t forget the perfect hot chocolate Alex got for me as we were heading back from breakfast during a downpour (I was safely under cover while he ran to the Phillz Coffee truck in Union Square). Each drink is made individually and there are so many options that you’ll need a few seconds to decide which drink will be perfect for you.

Speaking of coffee, Alex and I went to Contraband in the Knob Hill area for a quick caffeine boost (and almond croissant, because croissant) one morning after he heard good things about the chain. We enjoyed the coffee and the pastry we shared was delicious.

2015 San Fransisco - Street Art in The Mission - Campfire Chic 2015 San Fransisco - Lucky Street - Campfire Chic

Beanstalk Cafe was a great option for us when we needed a quick snack and drinks. We split a grilled cheese and if we were in the mood for something more, the rest of the menu looked really good. We saw a few couples stop in to get food for picnics, which sounded like a great idea while the weather was nice.

Hogwash was exactly what we needed as we stalked the city the evening of Santa Con. Many places in Union Square and the surrounding area had lines out the door and we weren’t interested in waiting in line with dozens of Santas. We arrived at Hogwash and were seated immediately (yay!) and split a homestyle pickle plate and enjoyed drinks while we waited for our sausages to arrive. I ordered the Burnin’ Brock and Alex ordered the Hogless and we really liked them. We have sausage gastropub type places near us and we wish they served a pickle platter like this one!

Dottie’s True Blue Cafe had a small line outside and it was totally worth it. I had a really hard time deciding what to order because everything sounds amazing and I wanted one of each of the desserts/pastries advertised on the large board near the front door. If you love breakfast, go and get in line right now. We ordered omelettes and split a giant pancake. Everything coming out of the kitchen looked delicious and I’m looking forward to going back to taste more great food.

We didn’t get to Bi-Rite but we did hit Humphry Slocombe while in town after seeing one location near the Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building. If you’re interested in ice cream with interesting flavors and combinations (think: Salt & Straw), this is a good spot. It was difficult to narrow down the flavors and I wish we thought to get a small “flight” of ice cream to split with our friends.

Katana-ya Ramen is where you want to go if you are in the Union Square area and need a ramen fix. The layout is a little confusing, but make sure you get your name on the clipboard outside if there is a wait. I was super excited to see a ramen that included Japanese fried chicken (karaage) but wish it was served on the side instead of sitting in my soup but it was still delicious! It’s cozy inside, which is nice on a cold December night.

2015 San Fransisco - The Wave Organ Alcatraz City View - Campfire Chic

If you saw my Fitbit data from this trip, you’d think we walked around the entire city the first day of our trip. We walked nearly 14 miles that Friday alone! Saturday and Sunday involved a lot of walking, too, but nothing like our first day.

Our favorite stop was the Japanese Garden, which is something you can visit in about an hour. The paths lead you through different areas of the garden including koi ponds, miniature trees, examples of Japanese architecture, and a small tea house. We sat and shared a matcha while trying to decide what to do next.

We also visited the Wave Organ, which was constructed 30 years ago. It is a giant sculpture just beyond the Yacht Club that is built into a jetty that you would overlook entirely if you didn’t know what you were looking for. As the waves crash around the jetty, the noise is brought up through the pipes to bring the sounds of the waves to listeners at different spots at the installation. We were the only two at the Wave Organ other than two locals fishing nearby. This also gave me my first view of the Golden Gate Bridge. My previous two trips to San Francisco included plenty of fog (aka Karl the Fog) so the perfect weather made for a great view from the Wave Organ. We also got a great view of Alcatraz from this location.

From the Wave Organ, we walked through Fort Mason and followed the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. This would’ve taken a lot less time to just get a cab or call an Uber, but like I said, the weather was really nice and we weren’t in a hurry.

2015 San Fransisco - Kam finally seeing the Golden Gate Bridge - Campfire Chic

I felt a cold coming on and wasn’t ready to spend time being soggy in the crowded downtown area as people and cars competed for space. We weren’t able to get out earlier so we stowed our luggage and walked around the (now less rainy) city to get some coffee and kill time before heading to the airport much too early. Thankfully, the airport is nice and we were able to comfortably spend time there while waiting for our flight.

This quick getaway was just what we needed before several weekends at home. We have the first half of 2016 outlined travel-wise and we hope to continue sharing these mini-adventures with you.


in California, Microadventure, Travel., Weekend

Snowy Backcountry Outside Big Bear California - Campfire Chic

After the first big rainstorm of the season, some friends decided we should head up to Big Bear to go off-roading a bit and find some hills for a day of sledding and hot drinks. Normally, the drive up to Big Bear is no more than two hours from where we live, but this time it took us about 6 hours to go 100 miles. It’s a good thing I packed a bag of assorted snacks, because we sat in traffic for so long that we missed lunch and didn’t have time to inch our way into the city for a bite to eat. We knew we needed to get out of the resort areas and into the less accessible areas for some breathing room from the crowds.

Big Bear California Sledding in the Backroads 2016


January 2016 Snow Day in Big Bear - Campfire Chic

The weather was perfect and we found a great hill to use with our sleds (and my giant donut float!) and a stretch of road that we could use to sit on an inflatable sled and get dragged behind a truck like a water skier behind a boat on a lake. We were really lucky to have this area to ourselves, especially after seeing the long lines at the resorts and recreation areas we drove by on our way up the mountain. We didn’t stay for long because we got such a late start and didn’t want to navigate the backroads in the dark if we could help it. When driving in this area, you need to have patience as other drivers try to get around you and as some of your caravan get stuck in the snow. It’s a small price to pay for a fun day with friends.

Hot Drinks During a Snow Adventure with Stanley and Kam of Campfire Chic

You can always count on me to bring (maybe too many) snacks on a microadventure like this. I packed cookies, crackers, fruit ropes, snack mix, and hot apple cider in our Stanley growler. We didn’t think we’d want that much cider, so I warmed enough for four people to have a small amount (just enough to warm our bones) and I wish I brought more because it was so delicious! The warm cider was exactly what we needed after running around in the snow and I’m so glad we had the growler because I knew I didn’t need to worry about it tipping over and spilling or the cider getting cold anytime soon. I plan on bringing this baby with us on every snow trip now! I might switch things up and go with tea next time to keep us away on the drive home.

Before heading out on your next adventure:

  • Take your car in to your mechanic to make sure you have the proper amount of air in your tires, that nothing looks like it needs to be replaced, and to chat about snow tires/tire chains
  • Call ahead/go online and find out if there are travel advisories. You don’t want to be the people who sit in traffic for four hours only to turn around because you’re unwilling to purchase snow chains for your tires
  • If you’re required to have the chains in your car, you should practice actually putting them on your tires (we saw too many people yelling to other travelers for help. Don’t be that person)
  • Get a map of the area and know where you are going. Ranger and information centers are there to help you! Stop in and inquire about conditions and let them know where you plan on going in case you get into a pickle
  • Let somebody back home know when to expect you. As soon as we realized we wouldn’t be keeping to our anticipated itinerary, we were all on our phones to update our parents and asking them to check in on pets

As with any adventure, use good judgement and have a backup plan. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products mentioned in this post. Clicking on these links and making purchases may result in a small commission payment for me. Thank you for supporting Campfire Chic. 


in Active, Adventure, California, Microadventure

Roundup of helpful articles, blog posts, and videos from around the net

This week’s collection is a hodge-podge of things. I’m catching up on my blog reader and trying to distract myself from watching so much television after work each day…I’m really excited for Suits to start back up on USA…and Downton Abbey to start back up again…and will continue to rewatch Orphan Black over and over until it returns in April.

So here are some of my favorite posts from the past few weeks that are keeping me from watching yet another episode of Property Brothers…

This Week’s Essential Reading:

If you’re a big TV-watcher like me, consider documenting your show watching (or book reading!) for the year with this awesome stamp set.


in Essential Reading

December Daily® 2015 with 30 Days of Lists challenge lists included inside! Pocket page scrapbook from Ali Edwards' kit by Kam of Campfire Chic

I finally finished my 2015 December Daily® album, which means I also get to share my 30 Days of Lists album!

What is December Daily®?

Find out more on Ali Edwards’ website and check out my previous projects (2011.1 2011.2 and 2011.3, 2012, 2013, and 2014).

Pocket page scrapbook for December Daily® using kits from Ali Edwards and supplies from previous years. Kam of Campfire Chic also uses her December binder for the 30 Days of Lists challenge

Why do I include my 30 Days of Lists lists in my December Daily® album?

I include them because having one album during December is more manageable for me. Also, Amy and I didn’t originally host #30lists during December until some Listers voiced their hesitation to do #decdaily because they didn’t know what to include each day and what to journal about each day…hey, that sounds a lot like my problem! I love that I’m able to include at least one thing (my list!) each day for my album and the bonus of documenting who am I right now in addition to the end of the year celebrations.

Get yourself into your December Daily album by taking photos using reflections. Kam used the glass ornaments from her tree to take a photo with her husband

December Daily Tip #1

One issue you may run into while documenting your December is that you find is that your face is not in many of your photos. I don’t want to always include a traditional selfie, so I made a point to take a few photos this year to get me in the photos in different ways.

Use reflective surfaces to get in the shot! The photo above shows a few things: the new ornaments we purchased for our tree AND Alex and I sitting together on our couch in the reflection of the ornaments. It’s also kind of cute to have the reflection in multiple surfaces at once!

30 Days of Lists album AND December Daily Album by Kam of Campfire Chic (she's also the co-host for #30Lists!)

December Daily Tip #2

If you’re like me and love to have dimension and layers in your scrapbooking, don’t be afraid to leave some pockets empty while you scrapbook with pocket pages! I loved the pocket pages in the Ali Edwards kit that had 2×2 squares (photo above, on the left). I used these pocket pages to create “art break” types of pages that included embellishments I had on hand and from the kits I purchased this year.

Allowing some empty space allows you to see through to the next page and gives you something interesting to look at as you browse your album. I don’t like how wet glue looks on the backside of the pocket pages, so I tried to cover up those “mistakes” with additional embellishments. For example, in the photo above, I used a blue asterisk chipboard embellishment to cover the glue mark on the back of the wood veneer tree embellishment.

Ideas for including non-Christmas things into your December Daily album. Kam also includes lists from 30 Days of Lists in her December album.

Yes, that would be a screenshot of Neko Atsume…It was a BIG part of my December so I wanted to include a “snow day” in my album.

December Daily journaling for a weekend trip to San Fransisco -- Include your BIG events in your December Daily in addition to the everyday moments.

December Daily Tip #3

One concern I saw on Instagram/Facebook about starting December Daily was about including non-holiday things in an album.

I say: GO FOR IT.

My December Daily isn’t full of Christmas-related things each day! That would be crazy (for me)! One thing I knew I wanted to document was our quick weekend getaway to San Fransisco in my album and allowed it to take up a 2 page spread to better tell the story, but I made sure to include some intentional journaling (photo above) to make sure there was  a little more context to the photos.

December Daily scrapbook album using pocket page sheets from Ali Edwards.

December Daily #4

Include packaging, cards, and brochures you pick up throughout the month!

I made sure to include some extra “stuff” throughout the album — the tag that was on our tree where the tree cutter wrote my name with a K without me asking (!!), seasonal bags and branded items from Coffee Bean and Starbucks, the tea I drank throughout the month, movie tickets…the list goes on.

My plan is to get a clear pocket with clasp to include in the album to house the cards we received this year. This is our first Christmas as a married couple so I’m going to be sappy about it and try to keep every.little.thing.

December Daily Album from 2015. Kam's journaling is daily lists from the 30 Days of Lists challenge.

Close up of Kam's December Daily album. Pocket page scrapbooking helps speed up your scrapbooking during the holidays.

December Daily Tip #5

Don’t stress about not taking a ton of photos.

Those three photos from the 25th? Those are the only photos I took that day! Unbelievable, right?! Well, I was in charge of hosting Christmas lunch this year and was all over the place with cleaning, entertaining, cooking, watching basketball, making sure the cat didn’t escape whenever my dad opened the front door…and picking up my phone to take photos of me bouncing off the walls wasn’t a high priority for me.

Alternative December Daily Pocket Page Scrapbooking from Kam of Campfire Chic

December Daily Tip #6

Document through the end of the month!

I know my month doesn’t end on the 25th and the celebrations continue for a week after the big day so I encourage you to stick it out through the 31st. 30 Days of Lists helps keep the momentum going through the end of the month since our challenge includes 30 list (31 with the *bonus* list!) prompts. We made sure to include prompts to help you wind down from the hectic month while also gearing up for kicking butt in the new year!

I’m so happy that I kept taking photos and journaling through the end of the year. I love that I captured the stories of seeing the new Star Wars movie, being a “couch person” (a couch potato), and a little bit about going to work and what we did for New Year’s Eve.

Happy 2016!

Supplies Used:


in 30 Days of Lists, December Daily, Memory Keeping, Scrapbooking, What I Made