fall camping

I love camping. I love the point where you leave cell coverage and electricity behind and are stuck with your friends and the supplies that you remembered to pack. I am thankful for friends to share such times with, and for those who instigated a camping trip to Mineral King, a part of Sequoia National Park, last weekend.

mineral king paths

We left after work and had fun finding messages our friends left for us on the back of the sign-in boards about where to find them. “Pam & Ben: All the good camp sites taken, proceed to Cold Springs.” “ Pam & Ben: We are at at site 25.” A fun treasure hunt in the dark after the drive up the crazy road through Mineral King.

mineral king stream 2

mineral king stream

The nights were cold, the days beautiful. It was a taste of fall with leaves turning yellow and cool, clean, crisp air. It was a taste of life where the drought is not so extreme as we hiked by as stream and up to a waterfall.

mineral king campsite

For Ben and I, it was our first camping trip together. We tested out our new tent and sleeping pads. We shared food by a fire and conversation with friends. Next up is making our own camping box and our own camping ‘normal.’ What fun it is to get to make new traditions and try new things with a loved one. Mineral King might have to become one of those normals in the years to come as there were so many trails we did not get a chance to explore. But then, there is so much of California yet to explore.

mineral king us

ps – Ben’s blog post on this trip can be found HERE.

pumpkin pie spice latte recipe

I am not a fan of Starbuck’s ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte.’ It tastes fake. That being said, I love pumpkin spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. All favorites in my kitchen and, to me, scream of happy fall.

I recently found out the same can be said of pumpkin spice teas — they are not all made the same. I grabbed a box of Twinings tea thinking that would be reliable. Horrible. It has a fake pumpkin taste. Republic of Tea, however, was a light tea, but full of real flavors. Moral of this story: pay for the good stuff, hunt for the good stuff. Don’t bother with the bad stuff, or be willing to throw it out when you find it.

And then, this morning, I had a thought: why not make my own pumpkin spice latte? So, I opened a can of pumpkin puree and commenced. Friends, this is the good stuff. I will perfect it in the coming weeks, but this is the starting point.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or mixture of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk (approximately)
  • espresso
  • sugar to taste

Mix pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla in a saucepan and cook until it smells lovely. Whisk in milk and cook until nearly simmering. Add sugar to taste. Add some espresso. (I make espresso on my stove using my moka pot — not exactly espresso, but it is pretty darn great. If you don’t have a moka pot, check out Ross or other discount stores as they often have them on great sales.)

Should you be lazy, you could do this in the microwave with yummy results.

There you go. Don’t settle for the fake flavors when the real ones are so darn good!

 

ps – If you need something to do with some of that extra pumpkin puree, try out these ‘Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies.’ Add 1 Tbs sugar to the recipe. And know that they are more yummy breakfast bar than cookie. Add a layer of peanut butter or eat with yogurt.

a great irony

Why is it that when we get dressed up, tradition says that the men put on more clothing and women put on less? I believe that it is one of the great ironies of life.

Saturday was the coldest day we have had here this summer / early fall; it was also the day of a friend’s wedding. The men put on their multi-layer suits and we women put on our one-layer dresses. They got socks and shoes and we got high heels and exposed toes. And thus the day began.

The bride was stunning, the groom handsome. We celebrated with much food, drink, and dance.

Then we hurried to the car in 40-something degree F, not C, weather with our one-layer dresses seeming to laugh at us as they flapped in the breeze.

Yes, fall is here…