Happy weekend

Happy Friday all. I am kind of loving this gloomy glorious start to our weekend, even if it did cancel our camping plans for tonight. I have a hard time really picking a favorite season (summer=sandals, salads and outside, winter=snowshoeing and fireplaces, spring=new life and being outside after being inside for so long) -- they are all kinda great. But I swear there is just something about fall that really makes my soul sing. Now let's just hope it lasts more than 2 weeks this year.

In lieu of camping, we are planning on some good family time this weekend. Probably a puzzle or two. Most definitely some good Indian buffet. And a whole lot of just soaking in this moody goodness outside -- do I sense a bundled up walk coming on? I think so. Hope you all have something great planned. Let's get this started with a few links, hmmmm?

Loving these adorable illustrations.
Haha. Poor guys. Not even close.
Best of National Geographic 2013.
Tips to make cut flowers last.
Architect top 10 grey paints for houses.
I wanna give this no-knead bread a try.
Toying with the idea of a haircut.
Step-by-step of one of my favorite easy hairstyles.
Imma make a slew of these. (you can buy them here)
Tips to stocking a whole-foods pantry.


Miracle grout cleaner

You expect to come home from Maui with a lot of things -- a tan, a new beach towel, some great photos. But one thing you don't expect to come home with is the world best grout cleaner recipe. Thankfully, however, I did come home from Hawaii with the world's greatest grout cleaner recipe, and it worked so dreamily for me I thought I needed to share it with you. You know, in case your grout is as embarrassingly dirty as mine. Grout can be so embarrassing sometimes.

I inherited the recipe from a woman I will call The Cleaning Sage during a game of Zilch (oh the wonders of game nights). She had inherited it from a friend, who had inherited it from pinterest. And I would just like to say that I swear pinterest is like the ladies league of modern days, and I am totally okay with that.

The Cleaning Sage raved to me about the wonders this miracle cleaner had done for her. She recounted how she stayed up until 2am cleaning every grouted surface in her house because she was so excited with the results. And after trying it myself, I could see why. I was up until 12:30am. In short, just make sure you plan out sufficient time when giving this a go yourself, or you may miss your bedtime. The formula is 100% natural, so no need to worry in that area.

Miracle Grout Cleaner
7 c. water
1/2 c. baking soda
1/3 c. lemon juice (squeezed fresh or from a bottle)
1/4 c. vinegar

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (you'll need extra room for fizzing), then pour combined ingredients into a spray bottle.

2. Start with a small section of grout, and spray copious amounts of the solution into the grout crevices (it makes a mini flood). Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

3. Scrub with a steel bristled brush until clean (it doesn't take much).

4. Dilute formula with water and then mop up with a towel.

Step 4 is just the method I followed for clean up. You can do whatever works best for your space. Happy grout cleaning!

Happy weekend

The weekend is here! Everyone shout for joy! Not to mention fall is here. Did anyone else notice that? It started taking over the mornings last week, and it keeps lasting a few more hours every day. Come Monday I think we will be in all out fall mode -- boots, tights and apple cider included.

This weekend is honestly the weekend of attending parties for us in the Clark home -- two birthdays and a marriage celebration will encompass the entirety of our weekend. We are hoping to squeeze in some end-of-the-season golf and a Sundance full moon ride too (my favorite). What are you up to? Anything fun? Here are some links to get the party started:

It's like magic.
I want this for my birthday cake next year.
And I want to make this flourless cake this weekend.
Cute phone wallpaper.
Total beauty.
A liiiiitttttttle too close for comfort.
Love this picture of Maddie.
Chipper desktop wallpapers.
So sad these rings are out of stock.
Adorable illustrated gifs.

Zion kind of weekend

First, quick note: I have changed up the format of the blog -- there are more pictures below for your perusing. Okay, on with the regular blogging.

My friend Robbie was born 29 years ago last Friday, so to celebrate, we (sans Ty since he had to work all weekend -- whaw whaw) went to Zion National Park. I almost feel a little like I won the lottery having this mecca of red rock just sitting in my proverbial back yard. Just look at it! I just wanna hug it it's so beautiful. And while it is actually 4 hours from my actual back yard (which is technically a communal park in my condo complex), I will still count it as long as I live in Utah. Makes me kinda proud to live in this great state.

The number of tourists you run into in Zion is astonishing. I sat next to a little French speaking family on the tram ride back from one of our hikes, and it never ceases to enthrall me when when I hear cute little toddlers speaking foreign languages (lisps and all). I had to consciously keep myself from staring too often. I have a bit of a staring problem just in case you didn't know. Cute kids? Great outfits? Foreign speakers? Beautiful houses? You better believe you will find me staring in the most polite and fascinated way possible. Anyway, I am sure I heard no less than 5 languages while I was there. Along with a group of tourists listening to what sounded like an Asian Nora Jones blasting out of their iPhone atop Angels Landing. I mean, why not listen to a beautiful song while admiring a beautiful vista, right? Why the heck not? That's what I say.

The weekend included 2.5 hikes, the first of which I have been excited to do for years now -- Angel's Landing. It ended up being a lot of things that people told me it would be -- beautiful, strenuous, steep, sweaty, wigglychainy and totally worth it. But it was not (and this might be the mighty, zealous adventurer in me), but it was not as death defying as people made it out to be. Really. So let that be known to the blogging universe -- if you don't suffer from vertigo or acrophobia, and you are comfortable doing rock scrambling, you will be A-okay. 

We also hit up the mile-long Canyon Overlook Trail. It's those pictures I posted at the top of this post, and the view at the end is out of this world. We got there just as the sun was setting -- slightly overcast and stormy in the distance. As I sat on a large red rock, gazing at the vista, my friend Lance asked "Can you think of someplace you've seen more beautiful than this?" I racked my brain. Somewhere in India? no. Ireland? no. Hawaii? no. Iceland, Italy, France? no. no. no. Grand Canyon? Havasupai? nope. It was decidedly the most beautiful place I had ever seen. Took my breath right away, I tell you. But in that content, I-could-sit-here-for-hours kind of way. Get yourselves to Zion, people. You won't be sad, I promise.

And now a teaser load of photos to help you get on that future vacation planning.
PS -- Thank you Robbie Preece for providing photos 1, 2, 7, and 8

Happy weekend

And now, back to our regularly scheduled Fridays! Happy weekend everyone. I feel like Friday posts went missing for a few weeks because of vacation, but we are happy to be back. You guys have any fun plans this weekend? Ty has to work all day the next few days (whaw whaw), so I am heading down to Zion National Park with some friends to explore the red rock. I want to hit up this hike for sure. Hope you get out there to enjoy the last few moments of summer too! Here are a few links to kick things off.

If I had $475 burning a whole in my pocket. Plus an extra $325.
Love the idea of salads without lettuce.
Socially responsible toothpaste.
The perfect fall finger-foods dessert.
What a great man jacket.
Emboss the address rather than stamp.
Easy petits fours.
I think this is the winning look for our kitchen update.

Oh Sweet Lorraine

Just in case you haven't seen this yet, I wanted to post it. While we were in Maui, lazying in bed one night before dozing off to sleep, Ty pulled me over to him. "Watch this," he said as he propped his phone where we both could see it. By the end of the video we both had sweet little streams of tears running down our cheeks. Love is definitely the sweetest and most enduring gift we have in this world of ours.

On a related note, at girls camp in July I asked the girls what they thought the most powerful force in the world was. I had been mulling this question over in my mind for a few days and in my brilliance had come to the conclusion that it was water. Water was the most powerful force in the world. Without sharing what I thought, I opened the question up to the girls and within 3 seconds one of them shouted "Love!" Smarty pants.

You can buy Fred's song at those links > itunes or google play


When the little old Hawaiian Airlines employee at the airport was announcing that we could upgrade our in-flight meal to a California Pizza Kitchen salad for $14, she would say "Mahalo" so quickly at the end I would almost miss it. "Mhlo," was more what it sounded like. Maybe not even that many letters. And it would make me giggle every time (she gave the announcement no less that 4 times in 10 minutes.) "Please bring your credit card and salad preference to the reservations desk at this time. Mhlo." Hahah. This was on our flight home, so at that point I heard about a thousand other mahalos during our trip, but hers were definitely my favorite.

Hawai'i is also my favorite. In particular, Maui is my favorite. Maui no ka 'oi. It felt like home to me, from the moment we stepped out of the plane to the very last moments we spent on our drive to the airport. I just wanted to find ourselves a little ohana and set up camp forever. Everything on my insides tells me I could be perfectly happy there (not to mention I could make this happen every day -- hello!), so I think that will be my new campaign. Maui or bust -- no hate in the 808.

If ever you are planning a trip to Maui, here are a 10 tips to help ensure that please-say-I-never-have-to-leave-this-paradise feeling. And if I have convinced Ty to move there with me by then, you can stay with us. And now, the tips:

1. Hike through at least one bamboo forest. And make sure to stop and listen when the wind picks up. The creaks and clicks will leave you wondering how you ever lived without all this enchantment in your life.

2. You MUST do the Na'ili'ili Haele Stream and Waterfalls hike. Must. Hurry quick, write this down: At mile marker 6.7 on the Road to Hana (hwy 360) pull to the side of the road. Hike into the Bamboo. Follow the trail downhill to the river, and make your way to the other side and find the trail head on your left at the bamboo forest. Hike up river through a series of five waterfalls. Expect mud, sketchy ladders, rock hopping, and full-submersion swimming. On the way back you get to jump three of the falls. You are welcome.

3. Pay special attention to the sand-throwing crabs at the beach. They are skidish and adorable and watching them warily crawl out of their holes (while constantly keeping an eye on you) and chuck their little balls of sand will keep you entertained for at least and hour.

4. Stop in Lahaina for Breakwall Shave Ice, Zushi and Elise Clothing Company (for that beach coverup or hat your forgot to bring), but stop for nothing else -- the rest of Lahaina will suck all the fun out of your day.

5. Free climb and jump at Black Rock in Kaanapali. Be sure to bring your climbing shoes though, cause that rock is SHARP. And you might slip and gash your shin a little bit, but just grab some polysporin at the local Long's Drugs (open 24 hours) for $5.79 and you will be sitting pretty. Also, be prepared to see manta rays and sea turtles at this beach because if you don't keep a keen eye they might just sneek up and touch you without you realizing they were even there. And being surprised touched by a sea turtle is quite the nerve racer, I tell you what.

6. Be sure to plan your trip when Maui is a-typically and exceptionally non-windy. You will get to stand-up paddle board past 11am, and when you take the Pride of Maui to Molokini to snorkel you will have 150+ feet of visibility along with ZERO other boats at the crater since you got to take the tour backwards (Turtle Town first then Molokini second -- booyah!). Special note: Turtle Town is lame. Molokini is awesome.

7. Since you are visiting Maui at an a-typically and exceptionally non-windy time, don't be sad when you can't go surfing because there are no waves. Just prep yourself for that now. And make sure to revel extra in all the amazing snorkeling you get to do instead.

8. Even if 2:00 a.m. seems a tad early, drag yourself out of bed to watch the sunrise at Haleakala. Then, after the angels stop singing from all the beauty you just witnessed, bike the 23 miles down the volcano in the early-morning calm and peace of the island. Heaven. Be sure to pay special attention to all the smells on your way down, cause this mountain smells amazing. And if you are hungry for breakfast during the middle of the ride down (which you will be), stop at the Kula Lodge to grab a No Ka Oi Omelet, Malted Belgian Waffle and a hot chocolate. You. will. not. be. sad. Be sure to book your tour through Haleakala Bike Company though, or you will be sad, because HBC is the only tour company that lets you ride down on your own, at your own pace and stopping as often as you want. (This post is not sponsored by Haleakala Bike Company).

9. If you are a runner, RUN. IN. MAUI. You will feel like a superhero, especially if you are coming from a high-altitude place. "I could run uphill for hours!" you will think as you are speeding up the trails with all that extra oxygen swirling through the air. The 4-mile Pipiwai Trail is perfect. Bamboo forests. Giant Banyan tree. Stunning waterfall. And plenty of people cheering as you pass the sweet little families and couples taking the trail to Waimoku Falls with you. Then, when you are done, take the .5-mile trail (conveniently located at the base of Pipiwai Trail) down to 7 Sacred Pools for some great swimming and rock jumping. Extra extra special note: Get to the 7 Sacred Pools by 10 a.m. to beat the crowds -- they start to swarm in about noon.

10. When you are driving the rest of the way home from 7 Sacred Pools along the south side (aka, the dry side) of the island, you will be starving and in the middle of nowhere and will happen upon Bully's Burgers. This delicious lone burger stand (which takes cards!) will make your freaking day. Delicious, affordable and built in memory of the sweet owner of the ranch who recently passed away.

Happy Maui-ing everyone! And now, since you made it all the way through the post, a little gift of a video for you. I call it "Ty and Turtle."

Portland with family

All previous visits I have taken to Portland have been in the winter time. Which translates to rain, cold and overall unpleasantness. Sure the trees are beautiful, and the fog rolling over the mountains is breathtaking, but when you are shivering and can't feel your toes, both are a little hard to appreciate. Hoping to make Portland our future home, Ty decided it was high time he and I took a trip to the Rose City in the summer, when temperatures are up and rainfall is nearly nonexistent. Enter our 2013 summer trip to Portland.

We jumped in the truck and decided to take our time getting out to Oregon. A stop at Shoshone Falls, a little car camping, and an in-and-out at the Pendleton Outlet the next morning (where I successfully talked myself out of a $350 coat, thank you very much) had us rolling into my in-laws house around noon the next day; beautiful. I like the two-day approach to the drive -- 12 hours is just a tad too long to conquer in one sitting, plus stopping along the way makes the drive an actual part of the adventure, you know? Also, did you know Evel Knievel tried to jump over the Snake River Gorge in Idaho? True story. And we drove right past it.

Fast forward to Portland; it was a balmy 88 degrees most days while we were there, and needing sunglasses rather than a raincoat and ear muffs while riding bikes all around the city with my sans-car brother and his family was right up my ally. In our 7 days, we visited fountains. We went to the beach (sidenote: all Oregon beaches allow dogs -- ALL of them. The coolest.) We hit up the boardwalk rides (also sidenote: the tilt-a-whirl is not for the faint of heart. One time is more than enough for me for one lifetime). We barbecued. We went on a boat cruise. We did some evening slacklining. We hiked to waterfalls. Portland is quite the festive place in the summer time, let me tell you. It was so festive, in fact, I'm thinking that as long as I have myself a good pair of wellies and a nice raincoat for winter, I could probably call Portland my home someday.

While we were planning all the outdoor festivities for our trip, Lower Oneonta Falls was a hike that kept coming up. "You can't miss this hike," the blogs insisted. And so, we made sure we didn't. We managed to squeeze it in the afternoon before we jetted off to Maui, and we loved it. The part where Hank fell to the bottom of the log jam was kinda scary -- more on that below -- but as a whole we loved it. In short, the lower falls hike is about 1.5 miles total and has you walking through a stream in a lush slot canyon that is just teaming with moss and plants and trees high above you. When you get to the back of the canyon, you are greeted by a lovely little waterfall about 100 feet high. It's beautiful. And totally worth an hour of your time. When we were researching the hike, I didn't find a ton of personal accounts, so I wanted to give a few thoughts in case some would-be hikers happen upon this post. Here is a quick rundown of specifics if ever you wanted to give it a go:

1. The log jam at the beginning of the hike is nothing too overwhelming if you are agile. But if you are a crazy puppy that moves at lightning speed throwing all caution to the wind, or if you have a bum knee, it is slightly more treacherous. Everyone (Ty, hank and I) got over on the way there without incident, but on the way back Hank took a spill that left him panicked at the bottom of a 10-foot-deep, log-strewn hole. I climbed down to him along a rotting log (read: precarious) and it took some forceful shoving to get him to climb up a collection of slanted smaller logs to safety. Everyone came out with no more injury that some rattled nerves (thank the heavens), but it was touchy there for a while. If you decide to bring a dog with you, the log jam may not be a cake walk. If you can carry them and safely get through yourself, do that. If they are a pretty sure footed pup with a bit of gumption, they should also be fine. But be careful with nervous or flippant pooches -- climbing into and out of that hole was no fun.

2. Wading through the water in the gorge is super fun, but not for weenies. That water is COLD. Even in mid August. Mostly you are wading about ankle to knee deep (nbd), but one part in particular had me up to my chest in water for about 20 feet. So. Just be prepared for that frigid little jaunt. I saw some people trying to scramble along the side of the canyon to get around the water, but it looked much more difficult and dangerous than it was worth.

3. Appropriate attire includes a swimsuit and some water-friendly shoes that have good grip. I wore chacos. A pair of Nikes you don't care about getting wet would do fine too. Good gripping is the key here, so just steer clear of slick bottom sandals or shoes, okay? You promise? Okay then. Don't want anybody getting hurt. I also wore a pair of board shorts and a shirt, but the shirt ended up being superfluous, so no need for one of those. And don't bring a napsack -- wading through the water with it will be a pain, and you don't really need to bring anything with you. Besides maybe a camera. Grab a dry sack if yours isn't waterproof to keep it extra safe.

Happy hiking.

Back from holiday

Hello from a slightly tanner Nicki! Ty and I landed ourselves back at home last night after a whirlwind of a two-week vacation split between Portland and Maui (where we met that cute guy up there ^^). I'm spending this Labor Day unpacking and doing laundry -- how appropriate, right? -- but pictures and the trip scoop will be coming at you soon! Hope you're all having great holidays.