Explore: Yosemite Valley

When planning my holiday vacations this year I decided I wanted to go to Yosemite for my Birthday. Upon this decision, one major obstacle became debatable, being which, my birthday falls at the end of December. So, my partner and I decided we would make good on this trip Halloween weekend with the assumption that attendance would be down. You must know, when going to Yosemite in the fall that you are somewhat forced to keep your exploring in the Valley, which means no Tualome Meadows, which was fine with me since I am an avid hiker and prefer to be in high elevations.

Our trip was four days and four nights which consisted of one night of camping in Lower Pines, two nights of backpacking in Little Yosemite which is accessible through the Mist Trail and John Muir Wilderness Trail. From Little Yosemite, you can access Clouds Rest and Half Dome, but when we were there the cables were down so Half Dome was not an option.

Backpacking Yosemite

If you have the gear, I highly suggest leaving the immediate Valley and camping high up above. This is the true Yosemite experience. There are bear vaults at the campground and you access the campground by getting a Wilderness Permit and entering the Happy Trails trailhead.

Camping Little Yosemite

The last night we stayed at the Awahnee which is by far the nicest accommodations in Yosemite and having spent three days in a tent, we felt was much deserved and appreciated.

Awahnee Yosemite

Before we leaving we climbed up the the top of Sentinal Dome which has the very best view of El Capitan and Half Dome.

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half dome yosemite

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What I Wore, Free People Crossed Coins Jacket

Literally every day I step into my closet, this jacket gets my attention. I spend most my days lusting after fall and an appropriate time to wear it. Its a bit heavy, and noisy… especially in this wind I am taking these photos in. Still a winner… and an attention getter.

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Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars

I am a real sucker for all things fall, and as soon as the leaves turn I am all about the pumpkin! I find myself overwhelmingly disappointed with basic baked goods and turn my nose up at a pumpkin spice latte.

Over the years, I have made possibly 100 pumpkin desserts and this one takes the cake… no pun intended.

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  • For the crust:
    1 package (1 lb) of Williams Sonoma spiced pecan pumpkin quick
    bread mix OR sub for ground graham crackers
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • For the filling: 
    1 package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 jar (13oz) pumpkin butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 15 oz. (470 g) confectioners’ sugar

First, preheat an oven to 350°F and grease a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

To make the crust, use a stand alone mixer with the flat beater attachment and combine the quick bread or graham mix with one egg and melted butter and beat on low speed until the ingredients come together, about a minute. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Press the crust down until evenly dispersed.

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To make the filling, in the mixer bowl, combine the ROOM TEMPERATURE cream cheese and pumpkin butter and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, vanilla, melted butter and cinnamon and beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Add the SIFTED confectioners’ sugar and beat well at a medium speed, about 2 minutes.

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Spread the filling over the crust. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, then cut into bars.

 

What I Wore, Chloe Faye Medium Handbag

I pined after this bag for many months, trying to decide the color combination I wanted, and I sure am glad I waited to purchase in the fall because this burnt orange suede on brown leather combo is simply stunning. Pictures do not do it justice.

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Chicken Avocado Lime Soup

Rarely do I follow recipes that I find online from start to finish, but this one comes close. As fall is upon us and cooler weather begin to creep in, I get a hankering to break out the crock pot making various dishes including soups, stews and sauces to store up for the long fall and winter seasons. This recipe comes from a well known food blog, called Cooking Classy.

1-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup chopped green onions

2 jalapeños, seeded and minced

32oz chicken broth (more if desired)

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp ground cumin

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

3 medium avocados, peeled, cored and diced

Salt, pepper to taste

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Pour all chicken broth into crock pot or slow cooker and set for a four hour cook time. Brown chicken with a couple pinches of salt and 1/2 tbsp of cumin on the stovetop in olive oil. Remove from pan, cool and shred. Set aside. In the same pan, salute garlic, onions and jalapeños until tender and add to broth in crock pot. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables to the soup mixture minus the avocado. Shred chicken and add to soup mixture and stir in the remaining of the cumin seasoning. I also add juice from half a lime, the cilantro as well as some fresh ground pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Let cook for remaining time, stir occasionally and add seasoning per your preference.

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Serve fresh with avocado or other desired ingredients as a garnish. Or freeze for a later date.

Hiking Abalone Cove, Rancho Palos Verdes

Recently I lucked out and had to be in this gorgeous and off the beaten path beach community in Los Angeles county. Rancho Palos Verdes or just ‘Palos Verdes’ boasts some amazing beach ocean view properties along the bluffs as well as several different spectacular hikes.IMG_0822After much consideration I zeroed in on Abalone Cove for a late afternoon hike. Upon arriving, I had some trouble because the parking lot closes at 4PM. So what would’ve been a two hour hike got shortened due to my trying to find legal parking near the entry. So, keep this in mind when visiting.

I’ve done many beach and bluff hikes and this ranks up there with them all, and might top just about anything I have done in Southern California.

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Once I reached the beachfront, I couldn’t help but stay later than I should’ve. The combination of the waves crashing at your feet, sun going down and feeling a long, long ways from that LA traffic that awaited me was a welcome solace and wonderment. I will definitely be back… perhaps with a picnic and bottle of wine.IMG_0803

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