A Weekend in Joshua Tree

Hello, desert-loving friends!

Today I’m sharing about a recent trip that my husband and I took to Joshua Tree National Park. This was his birthday gift to me and I can’t think of any better place to ring in a new year of life.


I hope this post will be helpful to you if you’re planning an upcoming trip to JT. If you’re not, I hope this post changes your mind and inspires you to put this slice of Heaven on your bucket list ASAP.

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Photo Credit: MAK

Where: Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California

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Where We Stayed: AirBNB in Yucca Valley, 15 minutes outside of the park entrance. Highly recommend this stay! It was private and pet-friendly, so our dog loved the big spacious backyard and it was sparkling clean with a really comfortable bed — key after hiking and exploring!

Welcome to Desert Serenity
Photo credit: AirBNB

Day 1: Getting into Town

We arrived to our AirBNB in the afternoon, which was about a 2.5 hour drive from where we live in San Diego.


We headed into the actual town of Joshua Tree, and explored the store and Visitors’ Center. Of course I bought a mug that I don’t need, but will treasure forever.



The purpose of going to the Visitors’ Center right away was to buy our park pass, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about that the day of. That way, we had the freedom to head into the park at whatever time we wanted the next day, because the visitors’ center and ranger stations wouldn’t open until 8 a.m. It only cost us $30 for a week pass for one vehicle. I would recommend doing this ahead of time!


There were bee warnings everywhere, which had me a bit freaked out! But I think we saw a total of 2 bees all weekend and they didn’t bother us. 🙂

Behind the general store is the “World Famous” Crochet Museum, and it’s absolutely hysterical. It’s free to pop into but donations are accepted. Highly recommend!


The afternoon heat was high, so after exploring around town a bit we went to the Joshua Tree Saloon for burgers and beers and to talk about our plan of attack for the park the next day.



We were planning to get up early the next morning to head into the park, so we went back to our AirBNB for some quality time by the fire. Chase loved getting to be outside for so long with so much room to play. We made s’mores and enjoyed the peace, quiet, and clear sky.



Day 2: Park Day!


We woke up while it was still dark, with hopes of making it into the park shortly after sunrise. I’d highly recommend getting up early to head into Joshua Tree. Driving east as the sun is rising is magical and the park is full of peace and quiet. There was no long line to enter the park (as tends to be the case on weekends), and because it was September, starting early helped us to beat the heat and get in some quality miles before the temps got unbearable to 100. (Don’t forget to purchase your park pass in advance so you have the freedom to do this!)


We covered 7 miles of hiking in about 5 hours. We would have loved to do more but it was H-O-T! We’d recommend dressing in layers (it’s chilly in the morning but gets hot quick), bringing at least one gallon of water per person, packing plenty of snacks, and leaving your pets at home if you’re going in the heat of the summer. Chase chilled comfortably in the airBNB’s AC while his parents hiked. 🙂

First stop: Arch Rock


This was a very short but memorable hike to some pretty cool rock formations. Perfect hike to ease into the day, and great for kids/families/hikers of all levels. The trailhead is tucked behind a campground and we got started just as the campers were waking up, making coffee, and eating pancakes. It looked like a great site to stay at if camping in the park is more your jam. We did see a lot of rattlesnake poop on this trail, but no rattlesnakes (phew!); I think they were still sleeping.



Cholla Cactus Gardens

We loved this stop! We had it all to ourselves and there is a nice, flat walking trail to take you all through the gardens.


Skull Rock Hike


Keys View

Overlooking Mt. San Jacinto to the right, Coachella Valley and Palm Springs to the left.


Wall Street Mill Hike


Barker Dam


Nothing more satisfying than a PB&J eaten out of the trunk before heading home. 🙂


After a quick post-hike nap back at the airBNB, we recharged and headed to Pioneertown, about 15 minutes from our airBNB. If you are trekking all the way out to Joshua Tree, Pioneertown is worth making time for! It is exactly what you’d imagine the old west from the movies would be like…because it was used as a movie set for many old western films!


This venue was pretty cool — a huge old “hay barn” now used for live music and secondhand books for sale.


After walking around Pioneertown, we hand some drinks and delicious bleu cheese nachos at the bar at Pappy & Harriet’s, a legendary local spot. Shoutout to our new friend David!


Later that night, we got pizza to-go from Little Italy Italian Cafe in Yucca Valley near the airBNB. We had heard that Two Guys Pies had the best pizza in town, but sadly they closed early on Sundays. We were disappointed but ended up being so satisfied with Little Italy — it hit the spot! And so did the wine out of plastic cups. 🙂


The Highlight of it all: Stargazing

After our classy dinner, we jumped back in the car as soon as the sun went down to go into the park one last time. Guys, I have NEVER seen the stars and night sky like this before. It was magical. We pulled over somewhere in the middle of the park and it was so dark we could see every constellation as clear as day, and so eerily quiet that I could hear my own heart beating. It was wild, and a little scary at first to be out truly in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black, but mostly incredible. Definitely a great memory that my husband and I got to share, and once-in-a-lifetime. If you go to Joshua Tree and are staying the night, you HAVE to do this. I have no pictures because pictures from my old iPhone wouldn’t do it justice, but just trust me.

Stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park - NPS/Lian Law
Photo straight from Google and definitely not mine…but yes, it was exactly like this. You have to go!

Sadly, we had to leave the desert and head back to reality (work) the next morning. We had a great time in Joshua Tree and my only regret is that we didn’t have one more day in the park to do more hikes! It really is so massive (800,000 acres!) that you could spend a whole week on different trails.

I hope you found this post helpful and inspiring to go on your own Joshua Tree adventure. The more Chad and I travel together, the more I’m reminded that it’s not where, but who you’re with, that really matters.

As long as I am traveling with him, I will be a happy hiker.

Happy trails! xo



12 of my Favorite At-Home Workouts

Happy Saturday, friends! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful weekend and thinking about some goals and intentions to set for the week ahead.
One of your goals might be to workout every day this week. Did you know the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends that we sweat for a minimum of 60 minutes per day?

“According to available research, an hour of physical activity appears to be necessary for optimal health. With 60 minutes of exercise a day, you can maintain health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Consumers need to hear this message as often and as consistently as possible in light of the epidemic of obesity among adults and children.” – Dr. Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. 

But, 60 minutes of moving can seem like an impossibly high bar to some of us if we are working full-time, keeping up with kids/family, social commitments, and other responsibilities. I strive to meet this bench mark each day and usually between teaching classes and marathon training, it’s very doable. However, there are some crazy days (I’m sure you can relate!) where I won’t have time to make it work and the only way to get in a workout is to fire up YouTube and get it done in my living room, in the wee early morning or late, late night hours after work.

Whatever your schedule looks like, you can get creative and make it a priority to find 60 minutes in your day to move, too. It’s important to remember that these 60 minutes do not have to be consecutive – so you can break it up with a 30 minute video, and 3 10-minute walks, for example. Just get creative and make it work for you!

To get you started, I rounded up 12 of my favorite free, at-home workouts that you can follow along with right at home. Enjoy!

20 Minute Barre (read my interview with Lindsey here!)

A one hour workout - Motivational Workout Quotes, Best fitness quotes ever. No Excuses #fitnessmotivation #workoutmotivation

Summertime Meal Prep Favorites

“June Gloom” is officially gone in San Diego and we are finally in the full swing of summer. Clear skies, constant sunshine, and temperatures in the low 70s, all day every day. Pure bliss.

Now that it’s heating up, we’re spending as much time outdoors as possible. That means we’re not spending a ton of time inside cooking/baking etc. When we are home, I don’t like to use the oven unless it’s absolutely necessary. In our 1950s beach apartment, there’s no AC so things heat up fast! I had fun spending just under an hour meal prepping a few easy bites for the week ahead — no oven required!–  and I’d love to share them with you. They’re nothing earth shattering, but it might be fun to add these into your meal plans this week if you need something new to try!

1. Cranberry and Coconut Bliss Bites


Chad and I both really enjoy eating one or two of these before we head to the gym in the morning. I get lightheaded if I workout or teach my classes without eating first, but I’m rarely hungry that early! These bites are perfect to give me a little boost and are easy to digest first thing in the morning. Be careful though, they are so addicting! 🙂


What You’ll Need:

  • Rolled oats
  • All-natural, unsweetened
  • Unsweetened dried cranberries
  • Unsweetened coconut shavings
  • Agave nectar or honey
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and blend until mix is even. Place mixture in fridge and chill for 30-60 minutes. Then roll the balls in your hands and store in fridge for up to one week.

2. Triple Berry Salad



What You’ll Need:

  • Your favorite greens (I opted for an organic spring mix from Aldi)
  • Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
  • Sliced almonds
  • Feta cheese
  • If you’d like some extra protein: grilled chicken breast
  • Balsamic vinegar and olive oil


We were recently gifted a nutribullet from one of our neighbors (I know, so sweet!) and I’ve been making smoothies every day. They are such a refreshing meal or snack in summertime and I love getting extra fruits and veggies in. My favorite combos lately have been:

  • Frozen peach slices
  • Frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 tbsp. raw beet powder (great for recovery, runners!)
  • Collagen powder
  • Dash of turmeric
  • 3-4 frozen broccoli florets (sneaking veggies in always!)
  • Water


  • Blueberries
  • Greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt for dairy-free)
  • 1/2 banana
  • Collagen powder
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter

In terms of meal prep, nothing is easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients together in a blender, right? Actually, it can get even easier than that! Because I’m always rushing in the morning (like I’m sure you are too), I like to have as much as possible laid out ahead of time. My clothes, my work bag, and my breakfast. I put all of the ingredients in the nutribullet cup the night before and store it in the fridge. Then when it’s go time in the morning, I just pull it out, flip it, blend, and enjoy. It’s a small hack, but it takes the guess work out of thinking of a good combination and saves me about 5 minutes. And in those fleeting morning minutes, every second counts! 😉

Pre-blend, going in the fridge the night before. It’s not pretty, but it sure is convenient!

I hope you are having the best summer so far!

What have been some of your favorite meal prep go-tos this season?

Life Lately: June 2019

Hey friends! Hope your June has been wonderful so far. Before the month passes, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what’s been going on this month. Feel free to follow the prompts and post your own in the comments, or in your journal. 🙂

Watching… The Office. For the 8th time through together with Chad; it truly never gets old. Right now we are in the time when Jim and Pam are expecting their first baby. I love their love.

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Reading… Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle (about his work with gang members in LA – absolutely fascinating) and Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure (aka DJ Tanner)

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Looking Forward To… our neighborhood’s street fair and chili cook-off this afternoon and family coming to visit us tomorrow!

Cherishing… that we got to listen and learn from Des Linden earlier this week!


Thankful…to have passed my CPR/First-Aid re certification for my job teaching group exercise classes this morning. It was a 53 question test and a skill demonstration. It feels good to get that out of the way and I really, really hope I’ll never have to use it.

Drinking… Trader Joe’s house blend coffee with cinnamon and a splash of almond milk.

Trying… new exercise classes! I made good on my two goals to try a zumba class and a barre class this month, both new-to-me workouts. I went to zumba last Friday and went to barre earlier this week with my friend Jenni. Both were challenging in different ways and it was fun to switch things up. Zumba was a great stress relief to just let go and dance. Barre could be a great strength supplement to running without huge risk for injury and I’m going to aim to take a class at least once per week.

Savoring… being in an “off” season of running right now. I’m still running 20-25 miles per week, or whatever I feel like, but the runs are easy and unstructured. Marathon training picks back up in July and I am really looking forward to running a full with my friend Casey.


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Loving… my mom’s trick of using applesauce instead of vegetable oil in baking recipes. I remembered her tip and made the swap last night when making banana bread for a cookout we had with some friends. The banana bread was so sweet, moist, and just a little bit healthier…and it was a huge hit. Thanks, mom!


Have a fun weekend!

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

3 Ways to Better Your Health This June

Why wait for a new year to start incorporating healthier habits into your life?

I love the beginning of each month. To me they are so full of hope and potential; a new season and a fresh start.

Even better is the first Monday of a new week in a new month. Like today! Hurrah.

If you’re like me and feeling a little extra motivated and inspired to make June better and brighter than May, here are 3 quick tips you can start incorporating today:

1. On Sunday nights, write down your plan. There’s no such thing as the Sunday Scaries when you spend time making goals and creating intentions for the week ahead! On Sundays, I like to write down what I will aim to eat for meals and snacks Monday-Friday. Writing it down on paper and sticking it on my fridge helps me to stay accountable to make good choices – choices my Sunday self had hoped for. I know what days I’m eating a salad for lunch, which night I will indulge in a glass of wine, and everything in between. For example, if I find myself hungry after work at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, instead of  mindlessly binging on whatever snack I find, I’ll look and remember that I had written down “carrots, cucumbers, and hummus” as my afternoon snack plan. Alternatively, it’s nice to know when I have planned treats/desserts and I can look forward to them. It’s kind of simple and elementary, but it really works and I’m sticking to it.

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Make sure you take at least one full rest or very light active recovery day each week. (Active recovery can be walking, easy bike ride, yoga, etc.)

Similarly, do the same for your workouts! I imagine that many of you have busy work and home life schedules and that no two weeks are the same, so no two workout schedules are the same, either. If you don’t schedule in your workout sessions ahead of time — they will never happen. Exercising should be a priority, not something you only do once in a while if you have extra time. Write down a plan on Sunday and schedule in the time. Write it on paper and stick it wherever you’ll see – your desk, bedside table, fridge — and then put it on your phone calendar. Write down the time, gym location, and what you will be doing specifically for that workout. Make a note if you will need to remember to pack clothes if you’re heading there straight from work. Block it off as if it were a work meeting. Heck, I even go so far as to “inviting” my husband on my calendar workouts so that he also knows that that is my precious scheduled time and will keep me accountable to meeting my goals. A few minutes of planning ahead on Sunday = guaranteed success for the rest of the week.

2. Keep extra fruits and veggies stored in your workplace kitchen. I don’t know about you, but the time I seem to be tempted to eat junk food and more food than I need the most is when I’m at work, usually mid-afternoon. At my office, there is an unlimited supply of candy and it seems that someone brings in donuts every other day. The temptation is real! And one too many times, I’ve wandered into the kitchen hungry and opted for Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids. Not exactly the best choice, and not even satisfying or filling – I’m hungry again 5 minutes later and am then tempted to go for the donuts! It’s a horrible, vicious cycle. But I’ve recently started bringing in extra fruits and veggies each Monday, and I store them in a tupperware in the fridge all week long, so I don’t have to remember to pack them each day. And make sure you wash and cut them ahead of time so they are ready to go when you’re at your hangriest. 🙂 That way, when hunger strikes, I opt for a healthier sweet treat instead of the sugar-loaded junk. My personal favorites to keep on hand, especially in summertime, are strawberries, blueberries, clementines, and cucumbers. Again, a few minutes of planning and packing ahead can help you to make wiser decisions for your health all week long.

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Many studies have shown a direct correlation between berry consumption and improved heart health. And they’re obviously delicious and pretty to look at. Win win!


3. Try a new workout!

The start of summer feels like a clean slate, and it’s the perfect time to try a fun, new workout. With great weather in all parts of the country this time of the year, take your workout outside! Many gyms offer outdoor HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and bootcamp classes, getting your Vitamin D and endorphin rush all at once. Or, if you live near water, rent a paddleboard and spend a few hours doing some killer core and leg stabilization work. Go surfing. Explore trails on an afternoon hike. Play tennis at the local park. Just do something fun that you’ve never tried before. Go outside of your comfort zone a bit. One of my goals this month is to try Zumba and Barre classes. I’m a terrible dancer, but I know I’ll have a blast learning something new while sweating and toning.

Summer is a great time to try something new – many mainstream gyms are now offering boutique classes, like Barre! (Photo credit: VeryWell Fit)


Happy June, friends – wishing you lots of sunshine, sweat, and time with the people you love.

Make this month your healthiest yet!


March 2019 Recap

Hello friends and happy April!

I’m writing this post 7 days too late but better late than never, right?

March was full of so many good things! Day to day life can feel mundane and repetitive sometimes but doing these posts help me to look back and see the beauty that each month brought.

Hello April  hello april april quotes welcome april hello april quotes hello april images

We started the month of with Indian food and an ice cream date at our favorite place in town, Lighthouse. They have photos and photos and photos of their customers throughout the year on the wall, and since we moved here three years ago it’s been our goal to get on it too! We finally took a picture to submit. Lighthouse is our favorite because they 1) do a lot of good for our little beach community 2) they make amazing ice cream sandwiches on WAFFLES and 3) they carry vegan flavors! We used to come here all the time when we first moved to San Diego so it feels like our special place. I got the coconut milk cream and soy mint chip…a scoop of each with fruity pebbles on top. 🙂


I would never have predicted that Indian food and ice cream would be good long run fuel, but alas, I ran 16 miles at 8:46 pace (in rain and wind!) the next day which was a huge physical and mental breakthrough for me! I have to thank my pally Ali for running the first few miles with me and starting the big workout off on a light and positive note — the momentum made the rest of the run come together.


We enjoyed another date night (can your marriage ever have too many?!) at a new to us Italian place and we drooled over their red pepper + sweet balsamic bruschetta…so much so that we had to take a picture, of course.


Our local college (Point Loma Nazarene University) men’s basketball team made quite a run in the Division 2 March Madness tournament…they went all the way to the championship! We got to watch their Elite 8 round at a home game with our friends Jenni and Justin. I cried because 1) I cry at everything and 2) I just love watching people’s dreams come true! I thought about how all of these college guys must’ve been dreaming of playing basketball at a high level and cutting the net since they were little kids and then I got all weepy.


We went to a San Diego Seals (major league lacrosse) game versus the Philadelphia Wings with our friends from California Tap Room, our local “philly” bar.



I got to gather with two great groups of women to celebrate Jenni and Jill’s soon-to-arrive bundles of joy! I am SO READY for all of the snuggles!


I ran the San Diego Half Marathon as a Race Guard. It was a unique race experience — I got to get dressed and prepped for the race in the Padres dugout and we all finished on the field! Pretty fun day.


Ali had a huge PR – we got to see each other before the race started.

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I got to log lots of weekday miles with great views


and we wrapped up the month with an overnight family getaway to San Clemente. 🙂

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Some un-photographed moments, but also of note:

  • substitute teaching a “Strength and Balance” class
  • St. Patrick’s Day potluck at work (I made vegan Irish stew)
  • hosting a friend for girl talk and coffee

March Miles: 146.87

Verse of the Month: “I will bring health and healing to it, I will heal my people and I will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” – Jeremiah 33:6

What were your March highlights?

What are you looking forward to about April?

February 2019 Recap

And just like that, it’s March!

At the risk of sounding completely cliche and redundant…man, time flies! I can’t believe we’re 4 days into March already. I know, I know, everyone’s saying something just like that but there must be some truth to it if we all feel that way, right?

There was much to be grateful for this month! Some of my favorite un-photographed moments included:

  • celebrating Chad’s 32nd Birthday not once but twice! At Island Prime and Kairoa Brewing Company
  • watching the super bowl with friends Jenni, Justin, Summer, and Ian
  • hosting Jeremy and Jill at our place for taco night. Tacos are always a good idea!
  • enjoying a girls’ day with two of my favorite ladies from work
  • feeling a bit of progress and two quality long runs with friends – 12 and 14 miles

And of course some documented moments… 🙂

Enjoying tacos + quesadillas (SO GOOD), barside at Tacos El Franc in Tijuana, Mexico
Taking in the views in Baja’s wine country – Valle de Guadalupe
Encuentro Guadalupe — rumor has it Rihanna rented out this winery once!
Sangria for two
Lunch w/ friends at Contera – Valle de Guadalupe, MX


Loving all of the reds at Casa Frida!


Chase enjoyed a sunny day at the park with his small friend Rosemary
and he got groomed – spa day! 
Enjoyed trying out my friend Karen’s son’s new kombucha business! Yummy!
Walking at the cliffs
One of our favorite indulgences…thai takeout date night! (Tofu with fresh veggies + peanut sauce = my jam)
More adventuring at the cliffs 
lots of snuggles, always
watching two of my favorite elite runners live and up close at UCSD as they pursued the standard for the Olympic Trials in the 10k, (Steph Bruce far left and Kellyn Taylor leading on the right.)


February Miles: 109.2

Verse of the Month: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what the Lord had spoken to her.” – Luke 1:45

What were your February highlights?

What are you looking forward to about March?