Thursday, December 7, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #140

6 comments:
Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!


This is our favorite part of this party each week - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!




Winter DIY Snowman Wreath // Live * Craft * Love
"Make this DIY snowman wreath and add it to your front door for the holidays then leave it up all winter long."




Scandinavian Buffalo Check DIY Christmas Tree Ornaments // Blowing Away Out West
"Maybe it’s because buffalo check reminds us of cabins with big windows to watch the snow fall, but it’s all the rage for Christmas these days."




Gingerbread Cheesecake Roll Ups // This AutoImmune Life
"Christmas is fast approaching! And nothing says Christmas like gingerbread! Enjoy one of Christmas’ favorite flavors in these Gingerbread Cheesecake Roll Ups."




Crockpot Cranberry Citrus Cinnamon Tea // Housewife How-Tos
"Crockpot Cranberry Citrus Cinnamon Tea is one of the first things I make when someone in my family feels like they’re coming down with a cold. It’s a warm and soothing drink, especially with the addition of honey to comfort coughs and scratchy throats."





Winter Travel Survival Tips // The (mis)Adventures of a Homesteadin' Mama
"Winter survival kits are not just for motorists who drive back roads. Unexpected weather conditions can find even city drivers in a predicament. No matter where you drive, you are your own first line of defense against Old Man Winter, because you never know when help will arrive."




Scatter Kindness // Dragonfly Treasures
"Yep, we've jumped on the bandwagon too! After all the world definitely needs more kindness!"




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Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!


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Anza Borrego Mud Caves and Sandstone Canyon With Kids

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Nestled in the middle of the California desert is the Arroyo Tapiado Mud Caves or as us desert go-ers know them as, the Anza Borrego Mud Caves. These are a site that you definitely want to see at least once in your life!

These caves are estimated to be over 5 million years old. They are created from the erosive nature of rainfall and the mud hills. There are multi-level caves, caverns that open up to show the sky in an otherwise completely dark area, tiny crevices that you have to crawl through and 35' open areas.

Some of the caves are as much as 5 miles long, going deep into the ground and raising up the sides of the mountains.

These are located about 25 miles north of the I-8 freeway in a small community of CranBrake, CA.


As you are driving down the road in the middle of the desert, you will see a sign that points Left to "Palm Springs" (not THE Palm Springs so don't make that mistake).  Take that turn and follow the dirt path for a few miles until you see the signs for Arroyo Tapiado, from there you have a two mile journey before you hit the peak of the mountains and start to see the caves!

There is roughly 5 caves that are visible and accessible from the road.

Now, with any of natures beautiful wonders, there is some danger. You never want to go near the caves after a rainstorm or an earthquake. The worry of rock/mud slides is always a thing to keep in the back of your mind.

These are located in the middle of the desert, where the heat can raise well above 100 degrees. As with any setting like this, you need to remember to drink water and carry the proper provisions for your journey.



Don't worry though, as soon you come close to the entrance of the cave, you begin to feel the cold air. The further in you go, the colder it gets. It is truly amazing to be sweating in the 100 degree weather and the next minute cooling down.

My family and I have been to these caves four times now. This was our first time with my 1 year old son going to the caves. He just learned how to walk last month so it was definitely an adventure!

You can camp along the trail anywhere you would like but beware at dark, because a lot of people come flying through there in their trucks and if you are not far enough off the road, you can get hurt.

We happened to have found THE perfect spot and try to get this spot every time we go.

It is a big cleared out spot that is right in between the huge mountains and right across the road is the entrance to the biggest cave! It really is perfect!

We set up our tent, got all our firewood ready and started our fire.

We usually have a camp stove and set it all up to make our "gourmet camping food" but this time around we kept it simple with a few cans of soup and raviolis.

You have to remember that your kiddos are probably going to be playing more than they would be at home, getting dirtier and being more thirsty than at home. Pack accordingly!




I have a 6 year old, a 4 year old and a 1 year old. I packed double their snacks, juices, milk and tons of water.

It is always better to be over prepared than it is to regret not bringing that second box of crackers.

Being out in the middle of the desert on an off road trail, unless you have experience could spell disaster. You have to think anything could happen. What happens if you get a flat tire with no spare? Something happens to your car that you cannot fix? Better to have that extra food and drink laying around, just in case.



You also want to remember that you are in the desert, so when you pack clothing, it will be hot during the day and cool at night. It is sand and rocks everywhere, so bring lots of extra clothing for those kiddos.

Flashlights, head lamps, etc are always a must while in the caves. It is pitch dark the second you walk into these caves.



I always made sure to equip each kid with a flashlight or head lamp before entering.

Of course our little man was carried almost the whole time, but he was able to walk for a small portion of it.

I carry a backpack with wet wipes, extra drinks and snacks.



As you are walking through you can visibly see where the water has run through the floor of the caves. You can see how it has carved the paths and made bridges and walkways for you to explore. It is truly breathtaking to see what nature is capable of.

As you venture through, there are a few spots that open up to caverns and openings to the sky! You can be in pitch dark and all of a sudden come up on a spot that you can see the stars!



You can follow the caves as far as you would like to go, some go for miles. With the kids, we lasted about 40 minutes of just straight walking down into this cave. We have gone without the kids before and have spent hours in them!

There are a lot of really cool carvings and photo opportunities inside, if you have a camera.

This time around, we stayed at this spot for just one night. The next morning we woke up and packed up the truck. You can either come back the way you came and hit the main road, or you can take the off road journey through the desert which takes a good 3-4 hours and head through the Solidified Highway. We chose the latter!



As you head away from the caves, there are a lot of small, tight trails that you must take with rock walls on both sides of you. Rocks and valleys where the rain has just destroyed the roads are always a common threat. You have to be on your toes at all times when you are out there.

Drive slow, drive smart and think!


It is said that 4 wheel drive vehicles are a must, but if you know what you are doing, you should be able to get through with no problems. We have driven in a Ford Explorer, a stock Toyota Pickup and most recently a stock Dodge Ram with no issues.



You will eventually hit the end of the trail head, and be able to go left to Diablo's Drop off or head off to another trail which would lead you out into Ocotillo. We always choose to go to Diablo's Drop off.

Now the name alone sounds scary, and for an amateur it is probably a scary site. It is a steep hill that goes straight into a gorge with cliffs and deep ravines on both sides of you. It takes some maneuvering to get down. We have experience driving off road so it is no big deal for us.

As you continue to go down the trail, you start to come up on these huge sandstone mountains, mountains that tower over you on both sides. They are absolutely beautiful, colorful and you can see all the layers in them as they have been there for millions of years and the wind and rain is just slowly chipping away at them.



This area of the trails are called Fish Creek Trail. This is where it is said that you can find dinosaur tracks, the earthquake fault lines and wind caves.

This area leads to Sandstone Canyon where it will finally bring you out to asphalt! You've finally made it out.

You end up at Split Mountain Road in Ocotillo Wells. Once you are here, it is time to get away from the rocks, hop in the dirt and have some fun.



All of this trip was made in about 4 hours. We, of course, stopped a few times to let the kiddos run around, change a diaper or two and have some snacks.

Make sure that your camera is charged as there are a ton of places to take some pretty epic pictures!

This is an amazing day trip to take with your family or a group of friends. Make the most out of your day and explore what the desert has to offer you!




Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Party in Your PJs #186

2 comments:
Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!




 Meet the Co-Hosts


Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

Teresa @ Aging Like a Fine Wine

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram






The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.


Lynda's Features!

 Make sure you head over to the other members of Party in Your PJs
 to see their features - we each pick our own!




All links are pinned to a Party Board...you can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiratioPn to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.




Book Review: The Princess Bride

7 comments:

I am often terrible at getting the things I plan to write actually written - I keep a long, long list of post ideas I plan to write and then experience writer's block about getting the actual words down, even though I'm thinking about what I want to say often.  Usually, this is because I very much want to make a positive commentary, but the subject matter itself turns out to be problematic.

Months ago, now, I received a book via Blind Date with a Book (an excellent service, and I highly recommend you give them a try!).  You can read my review here - I talked about their service, but kept the book I received a secret so it wouldn't ruin the surprise for anyone wanting to choose the book based on their hints.

What they do is wrap books - some old classics, some newer offerings - in plain brown paper labeled with just a few key hints at what it might be. You select your book based on those keywords and then a lovely surprise book comes to you!

The hints for my book were "Spoof fairy tale * Romance * Adventure * Fantastical * Hilarious".  My guesses when I picked it were that it might be 1) something by Terry Pratchett, 2) The Princess Bride or 3) something wonderful I had never come across before.  Any of these options sounded great to me, so it was win win win, no matter what.

It turned out to be Princess Bride - which I'd checked out of the library and read once long ago, and I've seen the movie several times. Hooray!

The Princess Bride, by William Goldman was originally published in 1973, and then updated and expanded in 1999, well after the movie release in 1987.

For those that love  the movie (also written by Goldman), there is much to love in the book, because most of the movie dialogue is lifted wholly from the book without change.

I am pretty sure that the first time I read it, it was the earlier edition - the one I received was the update.

So first, the good - it is the same rollicking tale as the movie, which makes it an easy, fast paced read that feels very nostalgic and familiar.

I don't have a lot else to say about that - I don't think I've ever read a book with a movie tie-in that so completely mirrored one another. What's in the movie is in the book, although the book does provide some additional backstory and expansion on the history of most of the main characters.

On that basis, I'd recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the movie.

So what led to my discomfort with writing about it? It's the expansion.  The premise of the movie is a grandfather reading an old book to his sick grandson.

In the book, Goldman makes a fictionalized version of himself the main character - while in real life, he has two daughters, his fictionalized self has an unhappy relationship with his wife, and a son he doesn't connect to.

His descriptions of his thoughts toward this family of his were really off-putting to me - he blames his wife for being a strong, successful woman, and refers to his son with contempt - he's fat (depicted as a character flaw more than merely a physical trait), he isn't interested in the things his father is, which is evidence that he is an unworthy son.

He wants to have a better relationship with him mainly as a matter of duty, but he pretty much puts the fault on the kid for not being the son he actually wants.  And there is never any irony in this, never any sense that he, the author, knows the mistake in this. His family disappoints him, so he avoids his son  and cheats on his wife.  Their fault.

I have a really hard time seeing this as anything other than a veiled dig at his actual non-fictional family.

He remembers a book his father (or grandfather? I can't actually recall) read to him as a child, and thinks perhaps his own son will bond with him over this book, so he goes to great expense to locate this obscure book in a second hand shop and has it sent to his son while he's away on a business trip.

Later he asks him how he liked it and the kid says he didn't and tried to read it but couldn't.  Again the son has failed him - how could he not love this wonderful story of love an pirates and adventure?  What is wrong with this boring lump of a kid?? What a waste of time and money getting him the book!

Well - it turns out the book wasn't fiction - it was a very dry and badly written book of history, and while the stories were in there, they weren't written to entertain.  His father/grandfather had greatly editorialized the book when he read the 'good parts' to him so long ago.

So, he sets out to rewrite it as it should have been - a fairy tale.

And thus, we enter the story of the Princess Bride

Goldman definitely makes it a fairy tale - Buttercup isn't simply beautiful, she is the Most Beautiful Girl in the World.  And that is all she brings to the story - her personality is petulant, kind of mean, bland, and incurious and she is a very passive participant  in the adventures that center around her.

And yet - she is Beautiful, and therefore a reasonable object of desire and all the resulting intrigue and chaos that ensues. Westly holds no interest for her at all other than as a thing to order around and demean, until he expresses love for her (because of her beauty) - then she loves him back.

Even more problematic, when Westly is still disguised as the Dread Pirate Robert, he enjoys a good round of actual physical violence toward her before revealing himself to her - and neither one of them seem to think this is disturbing. It's what Love does when it's angry, right?

The movie was better and now I'm afraid to rewatch it again because this is still a very strange 'love story'.
I'm not sure I'd have such a negative impression of her and their relationship if I hadn't read fictional-Goldman's criticisms of his wife for not being content to be a passive, supportive ornament for his own life.  And because I am not sure where real-Goldman and fictional-Goldman part ways, I wound up reading the entire thing through this somewhat annoyed lens.

Very disappointing!  It doesn't take away one bit from the fun parts of the story, but overall I think it doesn't age well... so much of this is rooted in the tail-end of the Mad Men era's notion of women, and he did nothing to correct it in this later update.

I'm glad I read it and don't want to discourage anyone from reading it who wants to, but I do think it's not suitable for younger readers unless there is a long discussion of how sometimes authors have some disappointing sexist views that need to be understood as such.

I get that when you read older books, you have to account for the era in which they were written - and I remember the early 70s well enough to recognize the attitudes Goldman brings to his story. But there is little cultural excuse for it in the late '90s, and I'd like to think that here in 2017, girls are no longer content to believe their value comes solely by how beautiful and willing they are to let men suffer and fight to attain them.

So, my assessment - problematic.  Just as fictional-Goldman needed to reframe dry history as a fairy tale, the resulting fairy tale needs some reworking. But - if you liked the movie, you'll probably enjoy at least the parts of this book that found it's way into the film!  If you don't want to be rabidly annoyed, feel free to skip the prologue, and maybe a lot of the parts about Buttercup and Westly.

If you'd like to give Blind Date with a Book a try, check back in a few days - we'll be offering another Giveaway!  And definitely go check them out - they now have a subscription Book Club!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #139

7 comments:
Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!



We have some great giveaways currently underway - check these out and don't miss your opportunity to enter to win!

Max on Snax Fall Activity Box - ends 12/1!
A delightful children's activity box chock full of healthy food fun - just in time to find it's way under the tree.



Neocell - Winner's Choice of  ANY Product! - ends 12/4
If you've ever been curious about any of Neocell's skin and joint health products, here's your opportunity to receive whichever product you'd like!


Ugly Christmas Sweater - Winner's Choice! ends 12/9
Now that Thanksgiving's over, it's Ugly Christmas Sweater season!  Winner can choose from among 30+ designs, ranging from Star Wars and other pop culture themes to downright bawdy.



This is our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!




Antique Chair & Fresh Eggs 25¢ Sign // a Vintage Green
"The antique (and repaired) child sized chair has been moved around our house for 15+ years. I love the hand work seen in this small chair..."




Peppermint Bath Salts Gift in a Jar // Crafts by Amanda
"Whip up a few batches of these and keep them on hand for unexpected guests bearing gifts."




Pot Pie Potatoes // Looney For Food
"How can you go wrong with a tender baked potato loaded with a creamy pot pie filling? Pot Pie Potatoes are the ultimate healthy comfort food. Make these classic with chicken or leave it out for a vegetarian delight."




Apple Cinnamon Bun Breakfast Casserole // Simply Stacie
"Breakfast casseroles are one of my fave types of recipes to wake up to. You can start the prep work the night before and finish the next day. They are filling and great to serve when you have company over."




Chocolate Covered Cherry Coca Cola Mocktail // Quirky Inspired
"Mocktails made with Coca-ColaⓇ are an excellent way to celebrate the holidays. I had so much fun making these Coke mocktails, they are definitely going to be a part of many, many more parties in the years to come!"





Homemade Aftershave Lotion // Little House Living
"If you find yourself struggling with razor burn after shaving and are looking for a quick-to-make solution, this homemade Aftershave Lotion is the perfect recipe for you. With just 3 ingredients this can be made in less than 5 minutes. It’s so smooth and creamy that your skin will thank you!"





If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!





Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!


Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:





Here we go!