Wednesday, November 30, 2016


If you've been around long enough, you may remember a series I did last year called #12DaysOfCarleesChristmas. You see, I thought I'd spread some extra holiday cheer by offering some fun giveaways. Some of them were sponsored by brands, while others were giveaways of goodies I had acquired and wanted to share.

With the amount of success the series saw last year, I just had to do it again! This year I started a little earlier than I had last year. I decided to reach out to some of the brands I have had the pleasure of working with in the past to see if they wanted to team up (I even began emailing my contacts as early as November 1st). The response was AMAZING! So much so that I have even been able to add BONUS DAYS!

Yup, you read that right, this year's #12DaysOfCarleesChristmas will actually be FIFTEEN DAYS - OVER TWO FULL WEEKS! I'm so stoked (and I'm sure you are too because more days means more chances to win the FAN-FREAKIN'-TASTIC giveaways)! And these companies came to play... no rinky-dink prizes here, these are the REAL DEAL!

I will be posting the giveaways on my blog ( and you will enter via a Rafflecopter widget. Each giveaway will run for seven days, with the winner(s) being drawn on the eighth day. The winner(s) will have 24 hours to respond to my congratulation email to claim their prize. All entries will be verified (which means, if you don't complete the entry you will be disqualified and a new, random winner will be selected in your place). You can enter as many of the giveaways as you'd like, just make sure to do whatever the required action is or your entry won't count. Oh yeah, and unfortunately the giveaways will only be open to US mailing addresses (international shipping can cost an arm and a leg and customs can be a major pain in the butt headache).

Keeping track of all of the product, entries, posts, etc is a lot of work, so I hope you forgive me for the lack of posting I have done these past couple weeks (and the fact that these upcoming weeks will only be giveaway posts).

Hopefully this is NOT what you are thinking!

I don't want to spill the beans and let you know all of the prizes up front, but know that these are all giveaways that if I wasn't hosting myself I would 150% be entering! I would actually suggest setting a daily alarm on your phone to remind yourself to come back to, that way you don't miss out (some of the entries can be done daily, so I'd recommend entering early and often).

Okay, have I wet your appetite enough?! I'm not trying to pull on your heart strings or play with your emotions, but I want to get the adequate amount of hype for these upcoming days - because, as Linzie says, 'it's gonna be LIT'.


What's the best giveaway prize you've ever won?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

REVIEW: Camelbak Chute® Vacuum Insulated Bottle

A couple months ago I was contacted by Camelbak to do a review of one of their products. If you know me, you know I LOVE me some reusable bottles (my overflowing cabinets can echo this claim), so I jumped at the opportunity!

What's in the box?!

I was stoked when a box arrived at my doorstep and it had, not one, but TWO of the new Camelbak Chute® Vacuum Insulated Stainless bottles! I received the 20 ounce in Jet and the 40 ounce in Evergreen.

Is it just me or does the Evergreen color remind you of the old school thermoses? 

Obviously as soon as they arrived we had to bust them out and see how they worked. There were a ton of features that I was stoked to try out - the fact that they stay cold for super long (24 hours for the 20 ounce bottle and 48 hours for the 40 ounce bottle), that you can put hot beverages in them (and they stay warm for 6 hours), that the cap snaps into the handle (so it doesn't get in the way when you are drinking OR misplace it ;)), that they have a sturdy, double-walled steel design which keeps condensation from collecting on the sides of the bottle, that the lid has a carry handle, etc.

Some of the nifty features of these spiffy bottles

The cap stows in the handle - how convenient!

The two-finger carry handle is oh so comfortable!

As soon as I saw these water bottles I knew they would be perfect for hiking and camping (and if you know us, you know we love to do all that outdoorsy stuff)! After all, nobody wants to end a long, hard day with a lukewarm drink.

The 40 ounce Camelbak Chute® Vacuum Insulated Stainless bottle is perfect for long hikes (like our hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls in Yosemite that conquered did this past week) or even for sharing (four-legged hiking partners included). Also, when you are camping in places that drinking water isn't readily available, this is a great option to store a large amount of agua. And even though it holds quite a bit of liquid, I didn't find it too cumbersome to carry around. I love the two finger carry handle (I can fit 3 or 4 of mine in there ;)) that is obviously designed with comfort in mind!

Walt was licking his chops to get some of the chilled water!

I used the carry handle to clip Walt's water bowl to and it worked perfectly

Walt gets a sip, then I get a sip... It's how sharing works!

I wanted to make sure I checked out the 'warm' feature as well (because a good blogger has to report on all of the options, right?!). I knew I wouldn't need 40 ounces of hot chocolate (I'm not a coffee drinker, but this would be perfect for that or hot tea around a campfire), so the 20 ounce Camelbak Chute® Vacuum Insulated Stainless bottle was the ideal size! Not only does this keep your beverage warm for you, it is leak-free, so you can throw it in your bag without having to worry. (Also, even though it isn't a feature that was mentioned, the 20 ounce bottle fits perfectly in a car cup holder - which is HUGE for me! I was stoked not to have it rolling around on my passenger seat when I hit the road!)

Even when I'm chilly and need extra layers, my hot cocoa stays hot!

Now Walt doesn't have to fight my water bottle for space on the passenger seat ;)

Both the hubby and I are stoked to take these on future adventures (I've already had to tell him to keep his paws off or else he may commandeer them as his own). They keep cold beverages cold and warm drinks warm, no matter what's going on outside... that, along with the countless other awesome features, helps to give these TWO THUMBS UP!


**Disclaimer: Camelbak sent me two complimentary water bottles and compensation in exchange for an Instagram post (the review on my blog was just an added bonus by me to share the deets about the products with my friends, family and followers). All opinions in this post are my own and 100% honest. [Hopefully by now you know I #KeepItReal.]**

Monday, November 28, 2016

Our Yosemite Camping Adventure

**WARNING: This post is FULL of photos (most of which were taken by my talented hubby).**

If you've been around my part of the InterWebs for a while, you know that the hubby and I love our adventures. Whether it is traveling to a new location for a race or camping for a week in a nearby city, we love getting out and about.


In case you didn't know, all of our family is back in the Michigan area. With the Thanksgiving holiday being a long weekend, it is hard to justify the trip back (especially when the travel prices are astronomical). We decided that this year we would load up the AdventureMobile and #OptOutside.

Originally we were thinking we would head to Zion (and my parents would come along for the journey), but apparently you have to book sites like eons in advance so everything was already full when we started to plan. As a back-up, we started looking into Yosemite. Can you believe that neither of us had been before?! With it only being about an 8 hour drive away, we knew we could make it happen!

The game plan was to camp in the park (we had a spot in the Upper Pines Campground) from Tuesday through Saturday. We figured we'd come home on Saturday as to give ourselves a little extra time to get back into the swing of things before 'real life' started again (i.e. do #AllTheLaundry, get groceries, pick up the doggy from the sitter's, etc). Ryan had to take Tuesday and Wednesday off work, but thankfully his new job was okay with that since we had it planned before he started.

We left around 5:30am on Tuesday and ended up pulling into our site by 1:30pm after a handful of pit stops (potty breaks, gas stops, lunch, etc). Some of our framily {friends who have become family} were already there and we quickly realized how AMAZING the area was!

We woke up Wednesday morning to RAIN! (I know this might sound crazy, but I think I would prefer snow to rain... Snow is easier to dust off, but the rain made everything so soggy.)  It was set to stop around 11am, so we tried to stay as dry as possible at the campsite before braving the weather mid-morning. Once the weather broke we hit up Yosemite Falls and explored around Yosemite Village for a while. There is so much to see and do (and when you have three little ones in tow it definitely can slow down the process a bit, but I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir on that one ;)). The crew started to peter out a little come afternoon, but we still got in quite a bit of adventuring before calling it a day.

Yosemite Falls (both Upper and Lower)

The majestic Half Dome

Us at the Lower Yosemite Falls

I might have gotten made fun of for my billion layers... but I stayed warm!

Us at the Lower Yosemite Falls

El Capitan is HUGE!

Deer have ZERO fear in Yosemite! They would get so close.

I was pretty stoked on my find... A leaf bigger than my head!

When we woke up on Thanksgiving the sun was shining... which is a good thing, and a bad thing... Good because that means it wouldn't be as soggy, but bad because that means the cloud cover didn't hold in any of the warmth and it was COLD! (The temps were in the 20s at night and warmed up to the low 40s during the warmest part of the day... if you were in the sun!) Unfortunately our framily had to leave that morning (a friend had passed away and since their oldest had a playoff football game on Friday they decided to leave a little early). With the change in plans, the hubby and I decided we would tackle some bigger hikes. Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls were top on the list and we knew we needed to take off fairly early because we were told it could take upwards of 6 hours for the round-trip.

Vernal Falls (I told Ryan it reminded me of Paradise Falls from Up)

Can you see those specks down there? Those are folks hiking up.

Hubby had trekking poles from his Mount Whitney climb and they definitely came in handy!

The view from above Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls (this may be one of my favorite photos from the week)

We joked that we were getting ready for our Christmas trip back to Michigan 

The hike ended up being 10.5 miles and took us a little under 4 hours (which included a stop for lunch and a billion and a half photo ops). I would say we made great time... even with the slippery ground due to ice and snow! After we got back to the campsite we decided to head back into Yosemite Village for a bit to check out some of the historical spots like the museum, theater, etc.

Mr. John Muir

Ryan said you could never have too many pictures of Half Dome...

Since our framily left, we no longer had a warm trailer to cuddle up in after dinner to play Phase 10, so the hubby and I spent extra time by the fire (and playing with our headlamp to make fun photos).

Let's just say I am a professional marshmallow maker ;) 

While everyone else was eating their pumpkin pie, we were having s'mores (with Reese's pumpkins)

You gotta give me some credit, it is hard to write it out backwards!

We added the Christmas lights from my #RnRLV 5K costume ;)

Our humble abode

We woke up Friday morning to another clear sky (read: COLD, COLD, COLD!). While we were in the village the previous evening, we found out that they were calling for a Winter Weather Advisory beginning Friday evening and were expecting 8-16 inches of snow. Originally we were planning on heading home Saturday morning, but once we got that news we decided we would pack up and head out Friday afternoon to try and avoid the weather. (The truck is 4-wheel drive and we had chains with us, but we didn't necessarily want to sleep in the snow, nor make the drive back home in the shenanigans.) With that said, Friday morning we packed up and got everything ready before heading out for a few last adventures.

We came across this area that had a TON of rock towers

Like I said... it was COLD!

We were able to fit everything in on the trip, minus Glacier Point, but that was because it was closed due to ice and snow. By about 1pm we were totally packed up and in the truck to head home. Although I HATE cutting a trip short (even if it was only $26 for the camp site that we 'lost'), we knew it was definitely the right call. (Saturday was crazy weather in SoCal, so had we stayed and drove home during it, the 8 hour trip would have easily turned into 12 or 16.)

One last Half Dome shot before the camera battery died and we made our way back to warmer weather

As you can see from all of the pictures, Yosemite is ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! If you have been, you know that the pictures don't do the breathtaking views justice. I gave the trip 4 out of 5 stars, but only because I would have loved the temps to have been 10-20 degrees warmer ;) We are already planning our next trip back... especially since I have "Hike Half Dome" on my bucket list of things to do before I turn 35.

PS Even though it was cold, I was loving the peacefulness (we've heard that in the summer it can turn into a little like Disneyland with the masses of tourists that flood the park). I would say maybe Spring or a little earlier Fall would definitely be the best time for our next trip!

Have you ever been to Yosemite?