Simply Mrs. Edwards

{just the life of a new wife}


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Vacationing on a Shoestring Budget

What is a young couple to do when they’re on a shoestring budget but are dying to get away for a long weekend? They find the most breathtaking coastal area in their state and go camping.

A few weeks ago we packed up and headed north up the coast to Bodega Bay for a 3 night camping trip. Honestly, we live in one of the most amazing areas in the state. There is never a lack of places to go see and explore, never too few options for a weekend getaway. Last year we headed a couple of hours south down the coast to Big Sur for a weekend camping trip

We headed to Bodega Dunes Campground which is a part of the Sonoma Coast State Park. When you arrive, they tell you to drive around and find a site that you’d like to claim and head back to the gate to check in. Well, after a few loops around the campground, we thought we found “the one.” It was sunny and open and close  (but not too close) to a restroom. We let the nice lady at the gate know that we wanted to claim it and started to set up. Well, we quickly realized that it was too open and too windy. Strike one.

On to site number two. We found this cute little area that was secluded, yet still sunny. It was set back from the road and there was a perfect nook for our tent. It reminded me a little bit of the Secret Garden. Well…this site definitely had its secrets. And unfortunately those secrets were stinky like a skunky.

After the sun went down, we had not one, not two, but THREE skunks that came out of the bushes. Three skunks that had their own agenda and were not the least bit afraid of us. One of us was exceptionally afraid of the skunks. One hint- he has a beard. Josh may or may not have hid behind me as as I was warding off the the stinky beasts. I’ll let it slide this time…

There was no way that we were going to be able to sit and relax around a fire with our new found friends, so we hid in our tent and played cards. Looking back, it’s hilarious. In the moment, not so much. Strike two.

The next morning we packed up camp once again and began looking for another campsite. After looking for a while, we happened upon a gem. It was a campsite that overlooked the bay and had the perfect combination of sun and shade. No skunks in sight. It was glorious!

This was the view from behind our tent. Pretty great, right?

While we were planning the trip, I scoured Pinterest for as many food ideas as possible (see my camping board right here). We tried a few ideas, but relied on some old favorites like Saturday Morning Breakfast.

My Husband is a bit obsessed with campfires. He brought 1/4 truck full of wood and was determined to use it all before we went home. This meant that we had a HUGE fire each morning and night!

We did our fair share of exploring up and down the coast during our 4 days there. The Sonoma coast is  absolutely beautiful. There are areas of sandy shoreline and sections of rocky sheer cliffs. We quickly realized that the ocean was angry and definitely not worth swimming in.

One afternoon, we drove about 30 minutes north to the town of Jenner. It’s a really cute little area with one hotel, one gas station and one little store. The town is built right where the Russian River comes into the ocean. There is a little peninsula that separates the river from the ocean where people kayak and swim. It is also where 50+ seals hang out, play, and sunbathe.

We’ve decided that all of our camping trips need to be at least 3 nights. If anything, it takes that long to find a campsite that isn’t occupied by skunks…

Some tips on how to plan and enjoy a camping vacation on a budget:

  • Choose a location that is close to home, but is far enough to feel like you’re getting away. We traveled about 3 hours from home, which was close enough to save on gas, but far enough to have a change of scenery.
  • Plan simple, but tasty meals. Use websites such as Pinterest and All Recipes to find new ideas.
  • Save in advance! I found it helpful to stash cash away in an envelope or jar for a few paychecks.
  • Use websites/apps like Yelp to find local favorites and affordable restaurants.
  • Plan simple & free activities to enjoy throughout your stay. If you camp within the State Park system your campsite fees will get you into any other local park. If you don’t own bikes, try to borrow some from friends! Take a picnic to the beach, go tide pooling, take a good book and relax!

The Camper,
Mrs. Edwards


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J&T Go Camping

I admit it, I’ve been the worst at blogging lately! I fell off the blog-bandwagon, but I’m baaaack! I promise! Here’s to playing catch up :) A LOT has happened in the past month, so my goal over the next couple of weeks is to get caught up on what’s happened and get back to real-time posting.

First up: Adventures with J&T!

A few weekends ago (maybe more than just a few, but who’s counting?), we loaded up the Chevy and headed south a couple hours to Big Sur. Both Josh and I love camping but had never gone together! We received a ton of awesome camping stuff for our wedding, so it was due time to put it to use! We booked a spot at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, a place that I’ve camped a few times with my family.

The drive down offered a whole lotta’ this:

It was SUCH a beautiful drive!

It was just about dusk when we arrived at the campground to find our site. Much to my dismay, the site that we had picked through the online reservation system was possibly the worst site in the place. All powdery dirt, no trees and 100% out in the open. NOT my idea of camping. For some reason my picture of camping has a lot more trees, a bit more privacy and less…dirt. Maybe I’m just a girl. My sweet, amazing, tolerant husband drove us back out to the gate and let me tell my sob story to the on-duty ranger. I’m sure he deals with unsatisfied women all the time so he knew how to handle me well! We were able to move a few spots over into a much better site. Happy wife = happy camping experience :)

It was fun/challenging setting up camp in the dark, but we did it! We’re kinda thankful that it was dark so no one could see how lame we looked trying to set up our tent for the first time (we were gifted an AWESOME Kelty tent for our wedding that is 98% fool proof…it took us almost the entire set up process to realize that the poles and everything were color-coded. We are the 2% that are in the dummy category, I guess.)

Dinner that night ended up being hotdogs and baked beans, haha. We ate at about 10pm, so I couldn’t expect too much.  After dinner, Josh was in the tent changing while I was sitting by the fire. I thought I heard some scuffling so I turned a flashlight on and OHEMGEE….guess what was less than 4 ft. away from me…a SKUNK! I freaked out! But a silent-I really don’t wanna get sprayed-kinda way. It was one of those moments when your entire life flashes before your eyes. I would die if I were to be sprayed! I think I scared it just as much as it did me, so it ended up running off into the bushes, praise the Lord! Thankfully no one ended up being stinky like a skunky :)

Saturday we had an all day adventure (fasten your seat belts for a ridiculous amount of pictures to follow):

Camping FashionYep, I wear knee high wool socks, over leggings, with TOMS. Awkward & awesome :)

handsome hubbySooo excited to cook breakfast!

Mrs. MustacheMr. MustacheHis and Her Mustache Pancake. Cooking mishap turned awesome photo op!

Exploring Andrew Molera State Park

My handsome hubby :)

SUCH an amazing view!

We headed over to Pfeiffer Beach where is was SO windy! We had sand EVERYWHERE when we left…yes, everywhere.
The rock formations there were fantastic…but probably would have been better if we weren’t being sandblasted!

We headed back to camp to make dinner, which consisted of carne asada burritos and corn on the cob. I’m a firm believer that while camping, you should be able to eat whatever you want. Hence, the random assortment of food that we had…haha.We forgot our corn on the cob holders at home, so Josh improvised with some galvanized nails he had in his truck. Redneck much?

Sunday morning, we had the best meal ever, Saturday Morning Breakfast (see recipe and my thoughts about it over here).

Best.Meal.Ever.

Then we packed up camp and headed south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (we visited a lot of places called Pfeiffer, it’s okay if you get confused…) This state park is home to McWay Falls, an 80 ft. waterfall that drops directly into the ocean. Being one of only two “tidefalls” in the region, it’s a pretty spectacular sight. The beach is closed to human traffic and the water is the most stunning shade of blue I’ve seen in California. Although there are signs everywhere reminding people that there is no beach access, someone climbed down to the sand and wrote “Amanda, will you marry me?” SO cute. And SO illegal. Josh and I spent probably 5 minutes trying to figure out how the heck they didn’t die climbing down and back up the sheer cliff. That is dedication to a cause!

Amazing, right?!

We had a blast on this trip, it was definitely the first of many to come!! We live in an area where within an hours drive you can find some of the best camping in the state. We are blessed!

Thanks for putting up with my lame blogging lately. And for the ridiculous amount of pictures that this post has. You’re a true friend if you’ve made it this far down the page :)

A happy camper,
Mrs. Edwards


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A Non-Traditional Easter

Both Josh and I come from families who celebrate Easter in quite traditional ways- church, egg hunts, food, family, etc. This year because we live so far from our families, we celebrated our Savior’s resurrection in a bit of a less traditional way. We went to church, then went and got a burger, a Slurpee and headed to the beach. It’s hard not having family around to keep us on the straight and narrow of traditions, but maybe we’re making some of our own? Hmm…I’m always up for a Slurpee!

For the past few months we’ve been attending a local church called Vintage Faith here in Santa Cruz. Today the 11am service was PACKED! It was really encouraging to see so many people-young and old-celebrating the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection today. One of my favorite moments was when the entire congregation was jumping up and down to the song “Happy Day.” It was awesome! Easter is a happy day! The free life we know is only possible because the Lord sacrificed His son through death. But even death couldn’t contain him! Praise the Lord for his redemptive plan.

After church we headed to our new favorite taco shop (Sorry Taco V, you might have been replaced). Unfortunately though, Tacos Moreno was closed because of the holiday. Plan B- figure out something else. We ended up driving for a while (because neither of us are good at making decisions under pressure) and finally landed on a new place we hadn’t tried yet. It’s called Burger. (yep, Burger period). Its been open for a couple of months and I had heard lots of hype about it. I had kinda avoided it for that very reason. I figured that we’d let the popularity die down and maybe try it after a while. Well, today was the day…and it definitely didn’t disappoint!! The venue itself is pretty dang cool with chalk board menus, lots of seating, great decor. But the food, oh my. I wish I had taken a picture of the menu itself, but there were some great names for burgers- The Dude, The Notorious B.I.G., The Phatty, The Snooki, The Monroe, just to name a few. After lots of consideration, Josh landed on The Phatty  (a bacon cheeseburger between two grilled cheese sandwiches) and I got less of an artery clogger- The Dude (avocado, bacon and jack cheese). We both chose sweet potato fries, yum!

Instead of using a number for your order, they used celebrity mugshots. Random, yet interesting!

How can you resist that face?!

The Phatty and The Dude. YUM!

After chowing down at Burger. we headed to the closest 7-Eleven and picked up a couple Slurpees. A good Slurpee can make the woes of the world disappear. You should test my theory! After loading up on cherry/coke frozen goodness, we headed to West Cliff Drive. This was our view:

We got to watch kite surfers enjoying the beautiful weather!

It was bright and windy, but SO pretty!

After a while of basking in the sunshine, we headed home. It turned into family nap time for a few hours, followed by a few hours of season two of 24. Somewhere along the lines I made this: Easter Pizza? Sure. Find the recipe for the dough here at allrecipes.com

Although it was a non-traditional Easter, we made the best of it and maybe started some of our own traditions. Church, burgers, slurpees, the beach, naps and pizza? Sounds like a good day to me!

Satisfied,
Mrs. Edwards


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Terribly Late Weekend Adventures

Josh was out of town for the past 3 days and I told myself before he left that I was going to do all sorts of things I needed to get caught up on to pass the time. Wanna know what I did each night? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Actually, that’s a lie. I vacuumed the floors, folded laundry and did nothing. Nothing includes 2 nights of sitting on the couch for 3+ hours, watching season 4 of Brothers and Sisters, chick flicks and eating i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m (if I spell it out, it doesn’t sound as bad, right?).

So, one of the things I was going to do while J was out of town was write a post about our weekend adventure. Yet, nothing took over. It’s amazing how easy it is to get sucked into nothing. Nothing is also known as procrastination, what I’m best at :)

Ok, to the point of this post: this past weekend we made the journey to my parents house in the Sierra Nevada’s, otherwise known as God’s Country. True story, look it up.

We started the road trip as any good road trip should start, with a stop at In-N-Out.

YUM. We live about 45 minutes away from the closest one so we eat there every chance we get! My typical order is a Double-Double, ketchup only. No fries. I don’t like In-N-Out fries…at least I pass it off like that. I usually end up eating a dozen or so from whomever I am dining with, this time it was from my Husband’s order. As I was stealthily stealing one from his tray, he looked at me and said, “I know what’s mine is yours, but THIS was not in the contract! Stop stealing my fries!” Hahah…I love him. Yet, I will probably never order my own fries, because- I don’t like In-N-Out fries (muahaha)

The last few times we’ve driven to Alta we’ve encountered some of the most amazing cloudy skies. See picture below for example:

Windows background, anyone?

We’ve also started a funny little tradition of stopping at the same truck stop each way on the drive. Its about halfway, so it makes for a good bathroom break for me and Mountain Dew stop for J. It never fails, we see some of the weirdest most interesting people at Flying J. This last time, we saw a Lady in a hot pink sweat suit walking back to her big-rig carrying what seemed to be an 80 oz. soda. I immediately looked at Josh and said, “Please don’t ever let me become that.” The truck stop itself has anything and everything a trucker could ever want, including camouflage clothing, sales clerks dressed as M&M’s, Beef Jerky galore and 15million flavors at the soda fountain. I think its a little bit like what Josh is expecting Heaven to look like :)

Isn’t he handsome? Yeah? I think so!

When we got to Alta, we were greeted by a beautiful sunset, a touch of snow, and some amazing friends and family. Our friends John, Lana and their daughter Sadie just moved up there from Santa Cruz and we were super excited to share a meal with them and my parents that evening. John recently became the assistant director at Camp Alta, a place that is near and dear to my heart. My parents have worked there for years and years and some of my earliest memories are of taking naps in the pantry as a 5 year old. Camp Alta embodies a ministry of hospitality in such a way that is so rare in our culture these days. We are so excited for John and Lana as they are joining the team there and hope that they are blessed daily in their journey!

See, God’s Country! Snow and beautiful sunsets, couldn’t ask for better.

One of the projects that I was able to help my Mom with last weekend was a photo wall that she’s been wanting to put together for the longest time. She’s been collecting black frames of all shapes and sizes for a while, and with the growing family (two grand babies, a new son in law) she’s been needing one central place to keep all the photos.


So, we took on a big blank wall in their living room and attempted to make something of the frames she had.

Before:

After:


Looking at it more I wish we would have varied the height of the frames on the top, but overall, I think it looks good for a first attempt (not to mention that we started it well after 11pm). She has plenty of space to expand in all directions, so it’ll be a work in progress for a long time. Maybe next time I’m there I’ll convince her to let me put a few more holes in the wall to adjust it a bit :)

On our way home on Sunday, Josh and I decided to make a pit stop at Ikea.
Ikea on a Sunday? Why not?!
It was crazy town. Everyone and their brother/sister/mother was there. Thankfully I have a very patient husband, he’s a trooper!

This picture reminds me of Forest Gump for some reason, hahah!

I promise the next edition of Weekend Adventures won’t take almost an entire week to post. Gosh, I’m lame!

With love,
Mrs. Edwards


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An experiment…

About once a day I think to myself, “Wow, this would make a great blog post!” I think this about DIY projects my husband and I take on, about dinners I successfully or unsuccessfully make, about adventures we go on, etc. About 1/2 of them would in reality make a good post, the other 1/2 are just me thinking I’m awesome…but would probably bore the average reader to death.

So I’ve come up with an experiment: To write about  1/2 of those thoughts/cooking successes and flops/adventures/DIY awesomeness and failures and so much more. I hope that you’ll enjoy this journey as I learn to blog. I’ll be posting things under a few different categories, things as a new wife I find myself doing: learning to cook, DIY-ing, figuring out how to live on a budget and everything in between. I’m excited about the possibility of this blog! I hope that I can remain consistent with it, as you’ll soon learn- I’m the best procrastinator and the worst at being consistent. Here’s to the start of something new!

With high hopes,

Mrs. Edwards