Lodged Out: An Outdoorsy Unplugged Retreat for Creatives

My pre-arthritic fingers needed a rest from the continuous typing, scrolling, and tapping. 
My mind desired clarity not tethered to a timeline and born out of a lack of distraction.  
My spirit craved the type of energy that occurs effortlessly from an authentic connection, refreshingly honest conversations, and pure untouched landscapes.

 Founder Bobbilee at Tall Timber - Photo by Retreat Photographer  Alycia Lovell Photography

Founder Bobbilee at Tall Timber - Photo by Retreat Photographer Alycia Lovell Photography

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Three days at Lodged Out provided all that and then some. 

I had been keeping an eye on the tech-free camp since my friend Haley attended their inaugural camp in Idaho. (She did a great feature about it on She Explores. You can read it here. ) It encapsulated so much of what I love and live for - connection and community, creativity, the outdoors, and the chance to really unplug. 

When I found out there was going to be a winter camp just over the pass from Seattle, all arrows were pointing to 'sign up'.  The decision was one of the best I've made for myself in the past six months. Now that I've been home and had time to process the experience, I can see that my participation was an important investment for both my personal wellbeing and professional growth. 

About Lodged Out

Lodged Out exists to bring like-minded people to the mountains for experiential learning so they can rid themselves of distraction and immerse themselves into an experience with inspiring people - because when you disconnect, you reconnect.
— Founder Bobbilee
 Founder Bobbilee at Tall Timber - Photo by Retreat Photographer  Alycia Lovell Photography

Founder Bobbilee at Tall Timber - Photo by Retreat Photographer Alycia Lovell Photography

Lodged Out - Tall Timber Style

It's hard to imagine a more picturesque place than Tall Timber Ranch for a retreat. We had the entire grounds to ourselves and bunked in cute A-frame and bunk-house style cabins. Situated about 30 miles Northwest of Leavenworth, Tall Timber borders the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area and is surrounded by alpine meadows and snow-capped mountains. The area became our playground every morning as we strapped on Nordic skis or snowshoes and tromped (or glided) around the camp.

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Nothing to do, Nowhere to go, No one to be
— Lodged Out Speaker, Tatiana Simonian

One morning we went searching for a waterfall, the next morning a group of us sat by a glacier river and talked about everything and nothing. The first 3-4 hours of the day were free to spend however we liked. And we liked to spend that time together. Distraction free. Cell phone free. Any type of screen free. My guess is that the lack of distraction led to a more immediate connection with one another. There was a presence in conversations - eye contact, intuitive body language, thoughtful questions - all of the signs that point to active listening. There was a distinct sense that not only did we all want to be there psychically, but we wanted to be there for each other emotionally. 


Lodged Out - Workshops + Speakers

I was particularly excited for the outdoor stewardship workshop with Katie Boué and creative writing workshop with Erin Rose Belair. 

I spend a lot of time recreating and promoting an outdoor lifestyle, so I was eager to learn about how to be a better advocate for the outdoors. If you're interested in learning how to do that, give Katie a follow. She's a fantastic resource. 

I also spend a lot of time writing, both personal journaling and for client work. With anything you do often, it's easy to slip into a pattern or habitual way of doing it. My writing had started to sound all the same to me. I was hoping the workshop would rattle some dormant creativity in me and it did! Erin taught us about lyrical essays and gave us a framework for creating our own. I've shared the essay I came up with at the bottom of this post if you're interested in reading.  

After our workshops, it was whiskey and dinner time followed by speakers and fireside chats. Being the grandma that I am, I rarely made it past 10pm. I would feel a high from the day that would carry me to the edge of the night before crashing from emotional exhaustion. But it was the good kind of emotional exhaustion. The kind that emanates from giving people your full attention, talking and listening for hours, and trying new things. 

 Photo by Retreat Photographer  Alycia Lovell Photography

Photo by Retreat Photographer Alycia Lovell Photography

Bye Bye, Tall Timber

When the time came to leave, I experienced a range of emotions. I was creativity inspired, ready to start new projects and dive into work. I was somber about leaving new friends.  I was anxious to  depart the quiet of the mountains and enter back into the chaos of the city, the chaos of everyday technology. And I was motivated to be a better outdoor activist, a better ally to WOC, a smarter entrepreneur, a more vulnerable and present friend, daughter, sister and wife. All of this as a result of taking 3 days to unplug with 35 or so creative strangers in the woods. 

Follow Lodged Out to get updates on their retreats. 
Instagram @lodgedout

Untitled Lyrical Essay -

I’m thinking about cooking dinner with Jared
Do-si-do’ing around each other in our tiny kitchen,
working separately on the same recipe
trying not to choke on the smoke rising from the cast iron
this hundred-year-old home needs a fan

vegetables sizzling, oil crackling
the occasional ‘oh shit’
vibrates off the mint green walls we didn’t paint
The music floats in from the record player in the living room

we pause and reach for each other
one hand held and one hand resting
on a back
or a hip
we start to move, small steps
creating small circles as we spin around
our favorite room in this hundred-year-old home

I wonder how much longer we’ll live here?

live simply
simply live
city living sometimes feels like anything but
I daydream about a new place to plant intentional roots
but where?

We’ll take certain things with us
the Belgian linen sheets that shelter our bodies at night
furniture that’s been passed on from parents
the record player, boxes of well-loved books
and the cast iron that’s heard our laughter, our curses
and watched us dance circles in our tiny kitchen

I’ve heard the phrase
”you can always go back”
but whoever actually does?

You live in the past, or you live in the present.

Travel: New Zealand - 3 Weeks on the South Island

From the moment we landed in New Zealand,  I knew that we were in one the most beautiful countries on Earth. Sure, I had spent hours eyeballing internet imagery and knew it was going to be exquisite.  But nothing compares to experiencing it first hand.  The country is the definition of utopia, elaborate with diverse landscapes and climates, brimming with friendly locals, travelers and happy farm animals. As opposed to a lot of the yearlong travelers we met, Jared and I had three weeks to experience the country's vast scenery. With that timeline, we stuck to venturing around the South Island. 



 If you are reading this and are planning your own trip to NZ (whether it's booked or a bucket list) this would be my one piece of advice: go for as long as possible.

To maximize on our time, we adhered to a 2 night minimum stay so we aren't continuously packing, unpacking, checking in and checking out of AirBNB's.  Below is our three week itenerary and a few helpful tips about traveling through the country.  Reach out or leave a comment if you have any questions or additional advice for readers. 

1. Abel Tasman National Park (3 days, 2 nights): 

  • Location: Top of the South Island
  • Distance: 37 miles / 60 km (in full)
  • Size: 55,672 acres and New Zealand's smallest national park
  • Campsite Price: $15 pp, must be booked in advance
For at least 500 years Maori lived along the Abel Tasman coast, gathering food from the sea, estuaries and forests, and growing kumera on suitable sites. Most occupation was seasonal but some sites in Awaroa estuary were permanent. The Ngati Tumatakokiri people were resident when, on 18 December 1642, the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman anchored his two ships near Wainui in Mohua (Golden Bay), the first European to visit Aotearoa - New Zealand.
— DOC Abel Tasman

Beginning in Abel Tasman was 100% intentional.  We needed to experience the opposite season than the one we were in. We enthusiastically traded in short, dreary winter days for the heat wave of summer. Exposing our skin to the sun was marvelous and I was surprised at how the act of wearing a bathing suit could be a source of so much joy.  

We took a 2 hour water taxi ride which dropped us off at Totaranui, a popular beach for locals.  On the way in we saw seals, sting rays and got a historical background of the park from our driver.  Once we were dropped off, we started towards our first camping spot at Onetahuti Bay. Out agenda was simple; soak in the sunshine and get some water therapy. In between that we cooked, read and made conversation with other campers. Two in particular, a couple from Wellington were on a tour promoting a waste-free life. Read about how they inspired my post about reducing waste while traveling here.

The second night we camped at Te Pukatea, a section of the trail accessible only by boat or hiking. There were only 7 campsites, and we found ourselves alone much of the time. We enjoyed the quiet and reveled in our distance from technology. For some, having no cell phone service is a cause for a breakdown, but we love it. Jared actually kept his phone off the entire three weeks! 



  • Make sure to sunscreen your entire body. I forgot to cover my feet and my poor feet burned, which then caused them to swell and created nasty blisters. 
  • On the day you hike out, stop at Hooked On Marahau to refuel before hitting the road. I don't typically eat meet but holy hell that burger was divine. 
 But seriously, a burger and beer after hiking is so necessary. The Hooked Cafe is conveniently located right outside the park.

But seriously, a burger and beer after hiking is so necessary. The Hooked Cafe is conveniently located right outside the park.

 2. Punakaiki / Paparoa National Park (3 days, 3 nights):

  • Location: West Coast 
  • Established: 1987
  • Size: 10,6181 acres

From Abel Tasman we drove south west towards Punakaiki.  Jared had found a sweet off the grid cabin and we splurged by booking 3 nights. We  didn't have any plans, which was probably a good thing since a cyclone rolled in and we couldn't leave our cabin! We were safe, but stuck in the cabin for over a day. We did manage to take a quick trip to the popular Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. A short, paved loop trail  takes you through incredible Limestone landscapes.  It was one of the most "touristy" things we did, but it was fascinating to read about the rocks 30 million year old history and how they were formed.  

* We found the cabin on Canopy Glamping. Our off the grid-hut was built by a local builder and artist, and consisted of two small timber huts, adjoined by a covered outdoor kitchen and living area. Everything from the furniture and decor, to the materials used to build the hut were intentional.  


3. Wanaka (4 nights) 

Wanaka was one of two towns we stayed in and we fell in love with it instantly. Any location that combines easy access to the outdoors, healthy creative food options, and a friendly community immediately has me daydreaming about a move.  Wanaka gets bonus points for being surrounded by water. Everyday, we followed the same simple pattern of coffee + breakfast, a hike followed by lunch and another coffee, downtime (reading/nap), a walk around town, and dinner. I love staying in a place long enough to develop a little routine. Below is a list of hikes we did and cafes/restaurants we ate at. 


Hikes in Wanaka: 

  • Roy's Peak - 10 miles roundtrip; 4-5 hours
    The proximity of this hike from town makes it an accessible trail for travelers. From the lake level, a steep gradient begins and doesn't let up till you finish at the top. There is a 4,000 feet elevation gain in the (almost) 5 mile climb. The views are spectacular and urge you along the way as you pass farmland, tussock and on a clear day, Mt. Aspiring. 
  • Rob Roy Glacier - 6.2 miles roundtrip; 2-4 hours
    This trail can be summed up in one word: diverse. Along the short 3.2 mile walk to the glacier, you pass through a gorge, beech forest, and an alpine valley. The drive to the trailhead felt longer than the hike itself, but the valley floor is gorgeous and home to adorable roaming cattle and sheep. 
  • Isthmus Peak - 10 miles roundtrip; 4-5 hours
    This peak tops at around 4,543 feet and is similar in  length and elevation to Roy's Peak. The track overlooks Lake Wanaka and Lake Hāwea, with views of the Southern Alps and the town. It's a long steady climb that's well maintained and not as crowded as Roy's. The best part (in my opinion) was walking through the fields of alpine tussock. 
 Moody clouds rolling in as we climb to the top of Isthmus Peak.

Moody clouds rolling in as we climb to the top of Isthmus Peak.

 Feeling wind and freedom at the top of Isthmus Peak.

Feeling wind and freedom at the top of Isthmus Peak.

Where to Eat & Drink in Wanaka:

  • Ritual Espresso Cafe: Anything off the breakfast menu + delicious baked goods + coffee
  • The Big Fig: "slow food served fast" - Modern Middle Eastern eatery right on the lake and open all day. Finish off your meal with one of their carrot cakes.
  • Francesca's Kitchen: Arrive early or book reservations in advance. Authentic, affordable Italian cuisines and an extensive New Zealand wine list. 
  • Kika: One of our top meals while in New Zealand. The trendy spot is tapas-style dishes that are inventive and seasonal. We were close to returning for another dinner but opted to try something new. Jared and I shared the Roasted cauliflower, whipped tahini, pine nut furikake and dates, the Roasted carrots, harissa, yoghurt, rye granola, and the Lamb shoulder, preserved lemon, rosemary, chilli.  I would order it all again in a hearbeat.

4. Mt Cook National Park, (2 days, 1 night) 

  • Location: Central part of the South Island 
  • Established: 1953
  • Size: 174,772 acres 

Staying overnight at the bright red Mueller Hut was one of the highlights of the trip. You know how some trips (or more specifically hikes) are about the journey? Well this one wasn't. This hike was definitely about the destination. It is only 3.2 miles but has a total elevation gain of 3,280 feet. I hadn't looked into it until I searched online and saw the estimated climb time of 4 hours. That long of a trek for that short of mileage usually means one thing- UP. The first bit is stairs, stairs, and more stairs. We passed a guy coming down who said "this was the stairway to heaven, now it's a stairway to hell." With my mental and physical energy focused on the uphill, I couldn't be bothered to think about tomorrow when we too, would be headed back down.  

We finished in 2.5 hours and I hastily bundled up on the deck of the hut, ate my sandwich and fell asleep in the sun. The remaining hours of the day passed slowly. We chatted with day hikers, explored the surrounding area and made a little home in the bunkhouse we shared with the other overnight hikers. 

Our hut warden for the night was Neville, a local kiwi who had been volunteering at Mueller for the last 10 years. He pointed out the mountain ranges in view, gave us a history of who climbed it when (shout out to Freda Du Faur, first female to climb Mt. Cook), and what stars we would see as the day shifted into night. 

Within 12 hours, we experienced the the most spectacular sunset and sunrise. At almost 6,000 feet up, we had a 360-degree panorama encompassing glaciers, ice cliffs, and some of New Zealand’s highest peaks.


5. Kepler Track (3 days, 2 nights) :

Location: Fiordland National Park
Distance: 37 miles / 60 km
Hiking Time: 3-4 days 


The Kepler Track is one of nine great walks in New Zealand. Great walks are New Zealand's premium tracks and are accessible from major towns that are well serviced by local operators and accommodation and transport providers. They are well formed/maintained and easy to follow. (Abel Tasman is also a great walk!) 


By the time we began the Kepler Track, we had hiked 6 days in a row. My body felt simultaneously strong and drained. I knew it would be a great hike but I was also craving stillness and a soft bed. We had originally planned to do the hike in 4 days but ended up finishing in 3 because that soft bed was calling both our names. Not to mention we were both getting eaten alive by mosquitos and we had hit a hiking breaking point. 

We started the hike in mid afternoon but walked a relatively flat and shaded 9 miles to our first camp spot at Broad Bay. We began the second day early, knowing that we had 15 miles to go with the most elevation gain of the trek. We stopped at the Luxmore Hut for a quick snack, bathroom break, and to layer on more clothes. Now that we were at the ridge line, the temperatures were much cooler and the wind was whipping. Raindrops felt intermittently as we  walking along the spine of the mountains. It was the highlight of the hike, looking down at the lakes and seeing other mountains jut out from the water.

At around mile 10 we began the descent and with every achy step we got closer to our home for the night, the Iris Burns Hut . Sleep came really easy that night. On day 3 we began the trail early, moving quickly through the beech forest and finally back to the car park.  We were able to book an extra night at our AirBNB and were enjoying and a shower and Netflix by sundown. 


6. Te Anau (3 nights)


Our AirBNB was situated out of town on a lovely farm and we didn't venture to town that often. Multiple people told us to go to Doubtful Sound vs Milford (because Doubtful was the less busy/chaotic spot) so we did book a full day tour though Go Orange cruise.  Despite Seattle-like weather, cruising through the fjords was gorgeous and it was a nice break from being on our feet. We did drive up to Milford Sound just to take in the scenery and stopped to do a quick hike to  Lake Marian . The rest of our time was spent on the farm or near Lake Te Anau. It was the perfect way to spend our last few days in New Zealand. 


2017 - A Year in Review

At the beginning of 2017, I attended a "New Year Desire Map" Workshop. I'm no stranger to workshops and retreats that focus on personal development, but this one gave me a new perspective on setting goals and intentions.  Instead of focusing on the things we wanted to achieve, accomplish, or attain - our facilitator asked us to first think about how we wanted those things to make us feel. What is at the core of those goals and desires? How will achieving this goal make us feel? Excited? Empowered? Independent? 
Once we gained clarity on that, we dove into our core feelings which paved the way for intention setting. (*This was a 2-day workshop so there is more to it than that but you get the gist right?) 

This was going to be a big year of transition and personal development. I was just a few weeks away from giving my workplace an exit notice and I was excited but anxious. Ready yet feeling unprepared. I was in a tug of war with mind and spirit, and who was winning changed at every moment. I pushed that baggage out of my mind for the workshop and wrote down how I wanted to feel and my intentions for the new year. These were my conclusions.

"I want to feel brave, committed, aligned, impactful and confident."

2017 Intentions

  • I will believe in myself as a creative human. 
  • I will commit to improving my skills in writing and photography. 
  • I will drop comparison and substitute support and encouragement. 
  • I will believe that abundance is TRUTH and that there is room for one more. 
  • I will kick fear out of the driver's seat. 
  • I will manifest and create the vision of my life I've had for years. 

This year I felt the weight of my privilege, exacerbated by the fact that I was able to quit my job and go on a personal quest for meaningful work.  Not having a full time job (which I had previously latched on to as 'my purpose') to go to every day played with my ego. Amend that- it's still playing with my ego, but I'm consciously working on it. I feel like I'm on the right track but I constantly have to check my inner saboteurs. They like to tell me I'm not good enough, that I will never make enough money freelancing, that I should probably go back to a steady 8-5......
Honestly, that has been the biggest challenge of the year wasn't quitting my job.

The biggest challenge was believing in myself.

 Photo By Nick Lake 

Photo By Nick Lake 

Even in moments of self-doubt, I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for, especially as I reflect on the friendships, community and experiences the last year has given me. 

TRAVEL: The Universe willing, travel will always be a significant part of the year.


2017 Travel Itenerary

February: Cannon Beach, OR, girls winter road trip
March: Monterey, CA, to celebrate my mom's birthday@ | Olympic Peninsula, another girl's trip (this was definitely the year of building strong female friendships!) | Oahu, HI, to warm up, visit friends & swim with sharks
May: Italy, Belgium & London
June: France, my best friend flew over from Seattle and we journeyed through Paris, Dijon, Annecy and Aix-En-Provence. 
July: Wallowa, Oregon, one of my favorite backpacking trips to date | Salt Lake City + Bonneville Flats Utah, for Outdoor Retailer
August: Orcas Island, San Juan Islands for Doe Bay Fest | Lake Tahoe, CA for our annual family vacation
September: Lake Tahoe, CA  | Tofino, BC
November: Yosemite, CA for my grandmother's 97th birthday! | Sunshine Coast, BC | Vancouver, BC
December: Ventura, CA, for a beachy Christmas with family

2 months in Europe was the highlight of my year. I got to travel with all of my favorite people (family, husband, and best friend) while making new friendships with host families and locals. There are so many places and cultures I'm keen to visit and learn about. Next up? New Zealand to kick off 2018!  

A few of my favorite photos from Europe. 

And back home in Seattle....

  • I got a coach. 
    Shane Eubank
     is my work/life coach and we check in and chat bi-weekly. He has challenged me to define and live by my values, helps hold me accountable, quiet my sabetours and inspires me to dream BIG.  
  • I have a workspace that isn't my kitchen table.
    Freelancing/working from home can feel ultra isolating and lonely. Thankfully I have enough friends that are also freelancers and a few of them decided that working together is way better than working separately. They started a co-working space called Treefort and it's a motivating and supportive space and community to go to every week. 
  • I joined the She Explores team.
    She Explores is a website and podcast for "Inquisitive women in the outdoors, on the road, and besides." The founder Gale has built and nurtured an incredible community of women from all parts of the Globe and I'm thrilled to be assisting with content. 
  • I focused in on what I REALLY want to do with photography.
    I explored with types of photography but found myself right back where (and why) I started. My inspiration always points back to outdoor spaces and people. Recently, I've been drawn to women entrepreneurs and creatives. I want to shine a light on their gifts and promote their talents. I'm also setting an intention to begin photographing retreats, specifically women retreats and those centered around personal development and health and wellness (like, a yoga retreat in Norway?! #manifesting). 

As the year comes to an end, I'm reflecting on how I want to feel in 2018, and what intentions will rise from those feelings. How do YOU want to feel in 2018? Is there a goal or intention you're looking to accomplish? 

Checking In: Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut, Mt. Tahoma Trails Association

Staying at Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is the closest I've come to winter camping. And really, I only compare it to camping because I slept on the floor and I had to hike in to get there. Otherwise, this hut provides all the luxuries that camping doesn't; an outhouse, a kitchen, and four walls to keep the cold out.

It's simple, out of cell reception, and a perfect weekend getaway from the city. 

 Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut and Mt. Rainer in the distance.

Getting to theTrailhead:
2.5 hour drive to the town of Elbe from Seattle.  

From Elbe, drive east on SR 706 towards Ashofrd for about 8 miles.  Turn right just before the Baptist Church at DNR Road 1. 

Road 1 leads straight to the Sno-Parks for the south district of Mount Tahoma Trails Association. Proceed six miles from 706 following the Sno-Park signs to the Upper Sno-Park. 

Note: A Washington State Sno-Parks permit is needed in the winter (November 1 to April 30). You can purchase a $40 annual non-motorized sno-park permit which is good for the year, or a daily $20 sno-park permit. The daily permit can only be used with a WA State Discover Pass. You can buy a pass at Whittaker Mountaineering in Ashford or online here.

The Hike to the Hut: 
The trek is approximately 4 miles long with 2,400 feet of elevation gain.  It's a consistent climb almost the entire way and I definitely found myself winded at various points.

It was uncharacteristically warm and sunny so we shred layers within the first mile. I welcomed the sunshine, even though I was blinded because somehow all my sunglasses disappeared after summer? 

We hit a large patch of dirt half way on the trail, so we had to remove our snowshoes and skis. The rest of the way up was smooth although the combination of warmer days and cooler nights made the trail icy at points. 

Be sure to check the road and trail conditions on the Mount Tahoma Trails Association website or their twitter feed for the most recent updates.


About the Hut:
After 4 miles of hiking and a few hours daydreaming about my sandwich, we arrived at the hut. It's maintained by the Mount Tahoma Trails Association volunteers and open to the public from 7am-7pm. Reservations and a whopping $15 are required to stay the night. Our party rented out the entire space (which sleeps 14), so we enjoyed the hut to ourselves.

There is a spacious kitchen stocked with utensils, cookware, and a four burner range-top so bring something to cook for dinner. The living room includes huge couches that are perfect for afternoon naps, and an absurd amount of games and puzzles in case you need to be pre-occupied (remember, no cell service!) A propane fireplace keeps the space perpetually warm and it's also used to melt snow for water. 

Upstairs are a few bunk beds but our group opted to take the provided sleeping pads and pile them into the open room for a giant slumber party. It reminded me of our summer camp trip to the Salt Flats, except we had the comfort of the cabin and I wasn't worried about desert bugs.  One downside is that the bathrooms are located outside the cabin, but it's a small price to pay and at least it's stocked with toilet paper and hand sanitizer! 

 Photo by  Nick Lake

Photo by Nick Lake

What to Bring: 

  • Sleeping bag
  • Food
  • Warm Clothing
    • Wool socks & slippers!
  • Headlamp 
  • Bluetooth speaker for tunes
  • Hand & feet warmers
  • Camera & tripod
  • Journal
  • A good book

The Verdict: If you're a fair weather camper like me, Bruni's Snow Bowl Hut is a great way to get outside for an overnighter in the winter.  It's priced really low (regardless if you're sleeping on the floor) and is a doable weekend trip. Reservations go fast but there are still a few weekdays available in January and February. Gather a few adventurous friends and book a stay! 

 Clear skies give way for great astrophotography! 

Clear skies give way for great astrophotography! 

Forever Stoked - Holiday Gift Guide

The season of gift giving is upon us. But I have to be honest, I don't really like shopping (online or in stores) and gift-giving is not my love language. Bah humbug right?! But the beauty of this season is that it focuses on what we can offer to others. It doesn't even need to be a tangible gift. BUT, if you're looking to give in a more traditional sense, I've created  handy a gift guide. Most of these items I own, so they are tested and approved, but a few are actually on my own wish list. I tried to promote a mix of products and experiences that support small business owners and ethical companies as well as items that are practical and not one-time disposable. Happy shopping and giving! 

Gifts for the Creative

1.) Skillshare Membership: $100 for the year
Skillshare is a learning platform and community featuring over 17,000 classes. Their mission is to empower people to advance their careers, improve their lives, and pursue the work they love. Before I transitioned to freelancing, I purchased a one year membership and consumed their photography classes.  I've since expanded to watching branding and marketing classes, as well as content planning and social media.  At the end of each class, you're given a project to upload and share with other students to get feedback and constructive criticism, which is super necessary if you're working by/ for yourself! 

 Photo By Greg Balkin

Photo By Greg Balkin

1.) Artifact Uprising Gift Card: any amount
Living in a digital world gives me more appreciation for tactile items like a nice coffee table book or a framed photo. Artifact offers an extensive product line of books, frames, and calendars. They use recycled papers and reclaimed options like mountain beetle pine wood for the products too! This is a great gift for the photographer friend or family member who wants to honor their art and give it a permanent place in the home. 

2.) Layered Mountain Mug: $30
Most creatives I know live on coffee or tea. I'm no exception and love this landscape mug from ceramist Coco Barrett-Tormey.  Everything she creates is made by hand and is inspired by the slow moments in life like morning tea or watching a sunset. Her mugs are a reflection of her love for the mountains, ocean, and desert. 

 Photo courtesy of Wylder Goods

Photo courtesy of Wylder Goods

3.) Moleskin Notebook: $18
You never know when a creative idea is going to present itself! I keep a notebook by my bedside for and carry one with me wherever I go for spontaneous journaling or note taking. These are the notebooks to buy in bulk because it's so easy to go through them.  

4.) Big Magic: $12
The book that reminds you that you do not need permission to live a creative life.  Elizabeth Gilbert, my all time literary #womencrush, gives poignant insights into how to deal with fear and courage during the creative process. It's a great read for anyone engaged in personal or professional creative pursuits. *If possible, purchase from your local bookstore. 

Gifts for the Adventurer

1.) Rumple Puffy Down Blanket: $150
This blanket utilizes sustainably sourced grey duck down (600 fill)  for insulation and has a weather-resistant DWR-treated nylon shell. Maybe most importantly though..... it's incredibly warm. It's accompanied me on all my travels since I got it and has been clutch when Jared and I road trip in Buttercup. It compresses easily into a packable size and is big enough to cover both of us and keep us cozy. If you don't live in a region with cool temps, I would suggest the original puffy blanket pictured below.

 Rumpl Puffy Blanket- Photo by Laura Hughes

Rumpl Puffy Blanket- Photo by Laura Hughes

2.) Patagonia Black Hole Duffel: $130
This travel bag is super durable and can be carried on the shoulder or as a backpack. It functioned as my suitcase this spring when I spent 2 months traveling through Europe and was a superstar as I moved through train stations, airports and countries! It's weather resistant and stuffs into it's own pocket for easy storage.

 Photo By Brooke Fitts

Photo By Brooke Fitts

3.) Peak Design Capture Clip: $60
This seemingly simple clip changed my backpacking experiences. Before I started using it, my camera would either hang from my neck (thus straining it) or it would be tucked into my backpack. When I wanted to take photos I would have to stop, unzip my backpack and set up my camera. Now, I can clip it to the outside of my bag and quickly take it off when I see something I want to capture. Aside from being a great product, I love the company's commitment to being socially and environmentally conscious. 

4.) Aeropress Kit: Because before the adventure, coffee needs to be had. At least in my life! We use the Aeropress at home every morning to make our coffee, but it packs up nicely into the perfect travel kit. This is a great gift for the person in your life that loves caffeine and is always on the road. 

  • If you need convincing, read more about the coffee travel kit here


Gifts for the Wellness Guru 

1.) Garmin Forerunner Watch: $290
I was in the habit of taking Jared's watch when I worked out, but I continued to declare that I didn't need one for myself. He surprised me with this watch for my birthday and it's been one of the most fun and practical gifts I've ever received. Not only can I use it while running, but it works for cycling, swimming, and triathlons (should I decide to do another.) It's also super lightweight and tracks heart rate + gives me a little buzz every hour that reminds me to get up and get moving. 

 Photo courtesy of Ursa Major

Photo courtesy of Ursa Major

1.) Ursa Major- The Minimalist Skin Care Set: $70
This set is only available for a limited time and includes the essentials; face wash, fortifying face balm and face tonic. Besides being made with healthy ingredients, the aromas are fantastic. The cedar, spearmint, lime combo in the face wash is my favorite! 

2) Essential Oil Diffuser: $30
In my opinion, a home isn't complete without an essential oil diffuser. I find a weird amount of joy picking out oils to diffuse, and I love the different energetic effects they create in the house. Lately, I've been going with a sandalwood and myrrh combo. Other favorites include; lavender, eucalyptus, sage and rosemary. I'll also never tire of friends coming over and complimenting how nice the house smells! 

3.) Hydroflask Water Bottle: $40
This water bottle has a permanent spot in my bag. At 32 ounces, it takes up a bit of space but I figure if I can get through two a day, I'm definitely staying hydrated. Double-wall vacuum insulation keeps the contents hot for 6 hrs. or cold for 24 hrs. and it's super tough stainless steel. Don't ask me how many times I've dropped it and you can't even tell. 

4.) Monthly Membership to a Studio: price varies
Now that it's winter, I've found the best way to stay active, is to move indoors. Give the gift of wellness by pre-paying for a punch card or monthly unlimited membership to a yoga, pilates or barre studio. Many are currently running holiday specials. 

 Photo By Laura Hughes 

Photo By Laura Hughes 

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