Friday, July 25, 2014

10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains


10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains {Gypsy Magpie}

This summer, my family and I have spent a lot of time outdoors enjoying the incredible state that we live in.

We’ve floated the Sevier, hiked waterfalls, and explored old abandoned mining towns near Marysvale. We’ve played in beaver ponds, driven miles of forgotten back roads, and laughed as little minnows tried to attack our lures like piranhas while fishing at Electric Lake. We’ve even pulled a replica pioneer handcart up the steep slopes above Strawberry Reservoir.

Each adventure we’ve taken has refreshed our souls and recharged our minds and each adventure has been unique and beautiful in it’s on way.

Last Friday, after a long hot day on the dusty handcart trail, I enjoyed the most stunning mountain sunset. As I stood there taking it all in, I starting thinking about all the places I’ve been and adventures I’ve had in my lifetime. As the scenes flashed before my eyes, I became keenly aware of the “mountain rules” my dad had taught me. I have never loved rules. I don’t like to be told what to do and I tend to buck authority, but there is something to be said about the peace, happiness, and order that comes with doing what we know to be right.

10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains {Gypsy Magpie}

In many ways I took my father for granted.

I guess I thought everyone’s dad did the things mine did. Since becoming an adult, I’ve come to realize that not everyone grows up with a real life Mountain Man for a father.

For that reason, I thought I’d share the 10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains.

Here goes…


Always Prepare Like a Good Little Scout:

Be prepared!

Check the weather. Buy a map & know your terrain. Change the batteries in your flashlight. Fill your gas tanks. Pack appropriately for the conditions you’ll be in. Bring extra water. Plan on bugs. Learn first aid and take supplies. Go with a buddy. Tell someone where you are going. You get the idea.

I know this seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many people find themselves in trouble because they didn’t prepare.

Stuff happens, so prep for it!


Share The Trail:

9 times out of 10, you aren’t going to be the only one on the mountain so don’t be a hog.

Share the trail. When you are driving down a dirt road and come upon a truck and trailer coming the other way, pull over and let him pass. If you are hiking along and find that the altitude is getting the best of you, allow the faster hikers to go around.

Be courteous.

One of the things I loved about camping growing up was that my dad seemed to know EVERYONE. He waved or said hello to each person we saw and they always waved back.

Somehow we’ve lost that friendliness these days.

Let’s bring it back. 


Mind Your Business:

This one is kind of gross, but needs to be said… Mind your pees and poos!

Use appropriate facilities when available. When you are out in the backcountry, drip dry when possible. If you gotta do what you gotta do, then please dig a hole and bury that landmine so some sweet little kid doesn’t go and skip through it. Maybe they do on Facebook, but on the mountain nobody wants to get in your business.

Seriously though, clean up after yourself. 


Gear Down:

Driving down a mountain is tricky and if you aren’t careful, you can easily burn up your breaks. People, you need your brakes so don’t be a flatlander, gear down!

When the road grade becomes steep and you find your right foot planted on that middle peddle, put your car into a lower gear. This will slow you down and save you from an embarrassing smoke-filled pit stop. Trust me.



There is so much to see and discover on the mountain.

Don’t get in a rut. Sometimes we find ourselves creatures of habit. We go to the same place every time because we know what to expect. Do yourself a favor and step out of your box. Explore a path you haven’t tried, take a different hike than the one you did last time. Use your senses. Touch the rocks, smell the wildflowers, listen to the birds.

Fill your soul and ignite your imagination!

10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains {Gypsy Magpie}


Be the Good Samaritan:

This one is pretty dear to my heart because this is my daddy in a nutshell.

Growing up we used to complain because if there was ever an accident, a truck stuck, a crying child, or even a hurt animal, my dad put on his super cape and swooped in to save the day. His “good samaritanism” would usually set our plans back hours and we’d miss dinner or not be able to finish a ride because we’d find ourselves towing some wide eyed, bushy tailed, deer in the headlights, 16 year old kid down to town. I look back and laugh now when I think about all those detours. I’m grateful my dad taught me about kindness and compassion. The mountain can be a rough teacher and sometimes the pupil needs a loving mentor to reach out and take their hand. If it was my boy who had rolled his brand new truck up the hollow, I would sure hope that someone would have the heart to set him right side up, bandage his wounds, and put their arm around him.

Be that kind of person.

I’ll never forget the time we were playing in Calf Creek down in Escalante and a teenage kid disappeared under the water. People came running, diving in, giving everything they had to pull him out. That boy’s drowned body is seared into my memory but so is the human compassion that came from strangers working together for the good of another.

Be a rescuer.

Be the Good Samaritan. I believe that we get back what we put into this world. Do for another as you would want them to do for you.


Look Up:

As we pulled and pushed our handcarts last weekend, we found our eyes constantly down on the trail. It was hard labor and we were exhausted. Thistle would attack our legs and giant holes seemed to open up and eat a small child if we weren’t watching.

I don’t know how many times along the trail that one of us would look up and suddenly realize the beauty we were surrounded with.

Don’t be afraid to look up. Stop every so often and take in your surroundings. Keep your eyes open, not only for your safety but also for your soul. What’s the fun of being on top of the world if you don’t enjoy the view?

It’s not a race. Slow down. Stop. Look up.

10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains {Gypsy Magpie}


Pack It In, Pack It Out:

Alrighty, this one is my biggest pet peeve in the history of ever. Nothing on this planet bugs me more than litter. Pack it in, pack it out! Whether it be wrappers, plastic utensils, pop cans, or twine, if you bring it in with you then you need to bring it out too. Pick up after yourself. Your mama isn’t going to be there to wipe your nose and pick up your granola bar wrapper so do it yourself. Don’t be a litter bug. There is nothing worse than working all day to make it to some rad place only to find yourself surrounded with beer cans and chip wrappers.

The mountain is a sacred place and should be treated as such.

Show respect to the mountain and those who will come after you by packing it out.

While we are on the subject, let’s keep in mind that nobody needs to see our stamp on 147 trees plus a rock face. If you feel the undeniable urge to sign autographs, move to Hollywood. Ancient Anasazi ruins and native cliff paintings are amazing. Drunken, sloppy carvings of boobs, not so much.  


Leave It Better Than You Found It:

Going right along with the last one, leave it better than you found it.

When camp is over, when the hike is through, take a moment to make your impact a positive one. Pick up trash you find a long the way. Do a service project for the rangers. Get creative, it’s all up to you. Be giving. Your happy place can also inspire others also.

Always leave it better than you found it.


Go Often:

When the mountain calls, go.

When stress levels fly through the roof and life gets too much, get outside. Get away from the world and regroup. There is nothing quite as good for a body as fresh air and tranquility.

When kids are little and full of energy, go to the mountain. There are no china, knick knacks, and definitely none of Great Aunt Effie’s white carpet. Let them run. Let them use their imaginations. There’s no where more entertaining for a child than a place filled with dirt, bugs, sticks, and animals!

When you find yourself fighting with your teenager, yep, mountains again. Take a hike. What could possibly help you see eye to eye better than a long walk and long talk? Give your time.

When you and your sweetheart need to get away… well, we’ll just leave that one to the imagination. 

10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains {Gypsy Magpie}



So, there you have it, the 10 Things My Dad Taught Me about the Mountains. 

It all comes down to the phrase “Love where you live”.

These rules could apply to anywhere, not just the mountains of Utah. I think what my dad was trying to teach me was to be a good steward over what I’ve been given… to love the world around me and to take care of it.

I’m grateful for the lesson and hope I can pass it on to my children.



**What “mountain rules” do you live by?

What do you wish people knew?**

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Flow

I love the freedom that has come with this summer.

I love the feeling of the sun on my face as I sit under the shade of a tree watching the sticky drips of popsicle roll down my four year olds chin. I love breathing free knowing that there is no forgotten assignments due and no gymnastics classes to race down the road to. I love the reading of library books and the early morning yoga when the world is still quiet and peaceful.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot going on around here. The oven died, I gave a terrifying (for me, hopefully not for those listening!) talk in church, the freezer leaked water all over which warped our wood floor, frost and pot-guts have wreaked havoc on my garden, and the kids are running wild through the neighborhood. I’ll have to cook on our camp stove in the back yard for yet another week until the new appliances come and it’s been wicked hot for days now. Speaking of hot, yesterday, our air conditioner broke. Why not, everything else has? Today I am sewing like mad, trying to get my family ready for our pioneer trek coming up. I still have a million meetings, but they seem easier to handle when I’m not engulfed in winter craziness. Bills are piling up and the “want” list has been quietly tucked into a drawer for the time being.

There is a lot going on, but it’s a different kind of busy-ness.


Since J.L. passed away and my husband totaled his truck a few days later, I have put a lot of things on the back burner. My home isn’t clean. There’s graded papers and artwork left on my desk from the last day of school. There is a giant pile of mending sitting on the table, at least 72 unfinished projects, and the laundry baskets are overflowing. I still can’t see the floor through the toys down in the basement and bindweed is rapidly taking over my flower beds.

There will be time for those things but for now there are other things that are more important…

like running through sprinklers with my children.


I’m choosing to be there for my brother as he rips out old flooring, paints walls, and turns his new house into a home for his beautiful family. I’m taking slow walks with a sweet old granny dog who doesn’t have very many summers left. I’m painting neighbor’s barns and going for hikes with teenagers, not because I have nothing I could do. I’m just putting more weight in the things that I should do.

I can’t do everything and it’s ok.


This summer has been good for me.

There have been so many challenges and yet I’m learning to let go and live in the moment.

I’m allowing myself some breathing room and discovering that I can be a responsible, hard working mother and a nurturing, attentive one at the same time.


I want to live an authentic, happy life and in order to do that I have to be centered and confident in who I am. There is so much noise and confusion in this world but I don’t have to let it overcome me. I just have to slow down and relish the moment that I am in.

Because once that moment is over it will never come again.

I guess I am learning to be present, which is something that doesn’t come easy to a girl who’s mind and body must constantly move.


There will always be financial struggles, accidents, and broken appliances, that’s just life, but there will never be another moment like the one I am in, so I am choosing to experience it.

Thank you, J.L. for teaching me that.


Happy summer everybody.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strawberry Lemon Water

My extended family has had a decades long debate over what a carbonated drink should be called. The California side says “soda” and the mountain fam says “pop” then add in my Texan sister who calls all of it “Coke” and you’ve got a real lively conversation.

Soda… Pop… Coke… Beverage…Whatever you call it, I gave up the habit 4 years ago for health reasons and haven’t looked back. But, I have to admit, I do occasionally miss my once beloved Diet Coke in the summer when it’s hot.

*Enter fruit infused water.*

I have always liked a slice of lemon in my ice water, but other than bridal showers and parties, I had never thought to branch out with other fruits/herbs until I ran across a photo from Jamie Oliver in my PINTEREST feed. I read his post and decided to try it out and I’ve been hooked ever since.

My current favorite is a mix of strawberry and lemon.

Making infused water is so simple. Just slice up some fruit and throw it in a pitcher of water. Chill the pitcher in your fridge for a few hours to allow the fruit to flavor the water then pour in a glass over ice and enjoy.

It’s that easy.

Infused Water Recipe Round-up {Gypsy Magpie}


Here are a few great infused water ideas to try.

You guys, there is seriously a recipe for every taste bud!


1. OPC/I Heart Naptime’s Citrus & Mint


via OPC featured on I Heart Naptime


2. Cucumber Ginger Lemon Mint Water by City Farmhouse

Cucumber Lemon Ginger Water

via City Farmhouse


3. Monica breaks it all down into steps for you here on this great post… Naturally Flavored Water by The Yummy Life


via The Yummy Life

The raspberry lime one is seriously delicious. I don’t have a muddler like she suggests, so I just use a wooden spoon if needed.


4. Ditch the Juice Box Fruit Infused Water Recipes by MomAdvice

Fruit-Infused Water Recipes

via MomAdvice

I have made the all citrus and the berry water and both were fantastic. My kids definitely liked the berry one the most out of any infused water I have made.


5. I haven’t tried this one yet, but this will be the first thing I do when my cucumbers come on in my garden this fall.

 Strawberry Lime Cucumber & Mint Water from Back to Her Roots

strawberry water

via Back to Her Roots


See, so easy!

Now that you’ve seen how to do it, you won’t even need a recipe, just use what you’ve got on hand.


**Have you tried infused water yet?

If so, what is your favorite?**

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Adventure Bags

When I was a girl, my folks would load up our old truck and we would head off to some remote corner of the west. My dad worked hard so he could play hard, even if it was only for an afternoon. Our family business took a lot of time, energy, sweat, and sometimes tears to run and my parents soon learned that in order to stay sane they needed to give themselves, and us kids, a little time to be free.

We called those trips “adventures”.

Original Adventure Bag Patch {Gypsy Magpie}

Our adventures took us everywhere from Capitol Reef to the Sequoias and to the hundreds of tiny towns, deserts, and mountain valleys in between. To be honest, it didn’t matter where we went or if we were gone for days or merely hours, all that mattered was that we were together as a family. {And, that there wasn’t a can of stain, piece of tack strip, or roll of heat seam tape in sight! Sorry Pops, you know it’s true.}

Our adventures were OUR time, that little sliver of light that refilled the soul and energized the tired mind. 

Adventure {Gypsy Magpie}

My mama started my first Adventure Bag over 30 years ago, sewing patches that we found on our trips onto a tiny blue duffel bag. Now as an adult, and parent myself, my little blue bag has become one of my most precious possessions. I don’t think my parents had any idea that their spur of the moment “adventures” would have such a lasting effect on our family, but of all the things that they did for us, other than teaching us how to work hard, their complete love of their Savior, and their loyalty to each other, those adventures had the most impact. It was on those adventures that we learned about overcoming fear, expressing love, and finding joy. It’s where we were strengthened as a family and, in essence, learned to like each other.

As I sat and looked at that bag a couple months ago, I felt the urge to recreate a little bit of my past for my children. I want them to learn the value of discipline and hard work, just like my parents taught me, and along with that I want them to learn to fly.

Adventure Bags {Gypsy Magpie}

There is nothing quite like a giggly little girl reeling in her first wriggly fish or the wonder in a young boy’s eyes as he looks down from the majestic mountain he just climbed.

You just can’t capture those moments, they have to be experienced.

So, I set to work.

I found 4 duffels on a killer sale at CABELA'S, well, plus 1 more not so little one for me. {That tiny blue bag can barely hold my shoes now so I figured I deserved a new one too.} I purchased the medium sized Ripcord Duffel Bags for the kids and the large size for me. But, any brand bag would do. You could use a duffel, backpack, or even a pillowcase if that’s what you had.

Duffel Bags {Gypsy Magpie}

After I got the bags, I dug through all my little hiding places {you mom’s totally know what I’m talking about here} until I found the patches I had quietly been saving from our family trips.

Then I pulled out my sewing machine, scissors, and coordinating thread.

Adventure Bag Supplies {Gypsy Magpie}

I didn’t take pictures, but you get the idea, I started sewing on all the patches. If you don’t sew, you can totally use BADGE MAGIC, PATCH ATTACH, or any other no-sew adhesive.

My favorite patches were a gift that I have been saving for just the right project. They say “Made with Love by MAMA” and ain’t that the truth! I sewed those sweet little things right on the end of the bags which will probably bring embarrassment to my son in a few years, but they make me happy so he’ll live.  

Made with Love by Mama Patch {Gypsy Magpie}

Because I am a procrastinator, I didn’t even start on the bags until the morning we were supposed to be leaving for Marysvale. {More on that in the next post!} I guess, as always, the last minute pressure finally got my rear in gear!

Here is a little pic of the kids and their new adventure bags taken right before we ran around the house like mad packers.

My Magpie's and their Adventure Bags {Gypsy Magpie}

So, here’s the thing, patches and duffels are a fun little detail but they aren’t necessary. They are just the frosting on the cake. If it works for your family then by all means go for it, but if not that’s ok too. The meat and potatoes is the adventure, the exciting or remarkable experience that awaits you.

Adventures don’t have to be big or expensive and they can be totally tailored to your family’s interests. It can be as simple as sleeping on the trampoline under the stars, taking a picnic to a park in another town that your son has always wanted to play at, snowshoeing by the light of a full moon, finding a hike you’ve never been on, or even following a little dirt road just to see where it ends.

Taking an adventure is about getting out of our ruts and opening our eyes to the world around us. It’s about seeing our spouse or child in a new light that brings with it a deeper love and understanding. It’s about turning off the screen and truly being with each other… body, soul, and mind. In this ever spinning world, we all need a moment to unwind and remember why we chose the life we did.

Love and Adventure {Gypsy Magpie}

My kids will probably never see the Tuscan villa’s of Italy or the Eiffel Tower in France, but they will have seen the magic in a campfire and a sky awash in stars. They will know the feeling of mud between their toes and the taste of fresh berries on their tongues.

More importantly, they will know that even when life was busy and hard that their parents made time for them.

That we loved them, in our own unique imperfect way.


“As soon as I saw you I knew a grand adventure was about to happen.”

~A.A. Milne


Adventure: an exciting or remarkable experience.



**What are your family’s favorite adventures?**

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Man, the Legend

Last week the unthinkable happened… 

A horrible accident with a tragic outcome.

I found myself in a crumpled heap on the floor when the messages started coming in that JL was gone. In my mind, this strong, vibrant man was invincible and would no doubt live forever. How could this happen? So many questions were racing through my mind.

I met JL ten years ago when we moved into our first home. He and his wonderful wife lived on my street and they took an interest in my little family the moment we started unloading the first boxes out of the back of the truck. JL didn’t even know us, and yet he walked right up and started toting boxes into the house. It was hard to not instantly fall in love with his twinkling eyes and big laugh. Over the years he lifted me up whenever my shoulders began to droop. He knew the names of each of my children and he went out of his way to let them know that they were important. When my husband was gone on the road, you better believe that JL knew it and his eye was on my house to make sure we were safe and secure. In our church group, JL was one of the beloved Candy-men. Sunday mornings he filled his coat pockets with sweets and would lovingly pass his treasures out to the little kids and crying babies in the chapel. He was always giving and everyone loved him.

The past few days as I have read the posts and comments on Facebook and Instagram I have noticed a pattern…

JL made people feel special.

He always had a kind word, a hug, a wink, or some small gesture to say that you were a valuable human being and that he saw and celebrated your worth.

He made time for those around him.

If JL knew you, he loved you and you were family, simple as that.

As I have processed it all the past few days, I have come to a realization, I want to be like that. I want to be the kind of person who brings others up. The kind of person who doesn’t hide her light from others but instead lets it beam brightly from her face just like JL. He understood the worth of a soul and the power in a simple smile. I want to know it too.

This man didn’t have an easy life by any means. I struggled wondering why the Lord would let this happen to them when they had already been through SO much. JL and Dawnette have pushed through heartache, blended a family, lost loved ones, and lived with disabilities and major health issues, among a million other things.

And yet, through it all, they have been two of the most loving, giving, faith-filled, and joyful people that I have ever known.



When I think of JL and Dawnette, I think of the words to this hymn.

Cheered Up Print

via romawinkel Etsy Shop

They chose to find joy in the rocky road they journeyed down and to search for the sunshine amongst the storm clouds. They acknowledged the bad and they experienced the hard, but they didn’t let it hold them captive.

I want to be like that.

So this summer I’m putting down my phone. I’m not going to stress over the details of my church calling. I’m not going to let the clock or the negative words from others {or in my own head} control me.

I’m going to be present in the moment with my family but even more than that, in my own heart.


Be All There {Gypsy Magpie}


I’m going to take adventures big and small.

I’m going to laugh as loud as I want for as long as I want.

I’m going to serve others because I want to, not because I should, it’s the right thing to do, or because it’s expected of me.

I’m going to love even when it’s hard.

I’m going to find joy even when it’s not easy.

I’m going to make time for people, campfires, music, and fun.


Campfires {Gypsy Magpie}


Music Heals {Gypsy Magpie}




I’m going to search for the gems hidden in the small, ordinary, and mundane that surrounds me.

And, I’m not going to wait until it’s too late to tell someone that I care.


The Man, the Legend, JL {Gypsy Magpie}


I dedicate this summer to the one and only JL Clyde… may his legacy live on in me and in the lives of every single heart he ever touched.

“God be with you ‘til we meet again.”