Olive Dip

Olive Dip @themerrythought
I love olives! Or, maybe I should clarify…I love black olives! I’ve never been a fan of green olives, I usually avoid them…but in this dip, I love them!  My aunt has been making this dip for a while now and it’s always one of my favorite appetizers at family parties.  When she shared the recipe with me, I couldn’t believe how simple it was.  If you’re in a pinch and need an appetizer in a hurry – this dip is perfect!  It can be whipped up in a few minutes and it’s soo good!  Even a green olive hater like me can’t resist it!
Olive Dip @themerrythought
Olive Dip

6 oz jar of black olives, drained
6 oz jar of green olives (with pimento), drained
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 baguette, sliced

Place all the ingredients in a food processor (not the baguette!), process for about a minute, or until olives are finely chopped, but not overly processed.  Serve with baguette slices.
Olive Dip @themerrythought
Enjoy!

-Manda

Zion National Park

We’ve got another amazing trip from my sister, Lyndsay, to share with you today. A couple of months ago, Lyndsay and her husband, Andy, were able to spend a weekend backpacking at Zion National Park. I dream of one day packing up our family and taking a cross country road trip to see some of these amazing places in person!  Until then, I’m thankful Lyndsay is willing to share her pictures and experiences with us (along with a few tips for hiking/camping at Zion)!
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Zion National Park @themerrythought
Do you ever realize that a long weekend is quickly approaching and you haven’t even begun to think about what fun adventures could take place? Recently that happened for my husband Andy and I around Memorial Day Weekend in May.

We began thinking about places we have always wanted to visit here on the West Coast, but can’t quite accomplish in a normal 2-day weekend. We ended up deciding (on Thursday evening) to go to Zion National Park, leaving Friday (yup, the next day) after work. Being regular backpackers, we were actually able to pull off prep with just a couple hours of packing, about 30 minutes researching tips online, and having a conversation with a couple of my co-workers who have visited the park before. We happened to already have the food supplies we needed on hand (and knew there would be grocery store near the park, if needed), so we lucked out in not even needing to go to the grocery store that night.

We knew three things would be true:

  1. Traffic would be bad on a Friday – so we didn’t leave until 6:30pm.
  2. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, all campsites would be booked – so we looked up options for setting up a tent outside the park. If you are on National Forest land, you can camp without having to be at a campground. We found a great spot just 25 miles outside the park off the side of the road. *Please be aware though – there are rules & regulations for camping on National Forest Land – make sure to read up on this if you are going to do it!*
  3. We wanted to backpack the Narrows – which is what Zion is famous for in the backpacking world – so we knew we would need to prioritize getting a wilderness permit. We tried the lottery you can enter into for $5 online, but weren’t selected.  This meant we needed to be at the ranger station by 5am on Saturday in order to obtain an overnight wilderness permit for Sunday night in the Narrows (you also can reserve a spot online 3 months in advance, but clearly that was not an option for us last-minute-planners!).

Since it was a 7 hour drive from where we live, we didn’t get in until 1:30am, which ended up being 2:30am with the timezone change – oops…forgot to plan for that! We set up our tent at the aforementioned spot by the road and were asleep by 3:30am and then up at 5am (short night!) to arrive at the ranger station bright and early. We were the 5th group in line when we arrived just before 6am. When the ranger station opened at 7am, we were able to obtain a permit for just $10. Knowing we needed to both complete the hike and finish the 8 hour drive home all in the same day, we intentionally chose a campsite closer to the end of the hike (number 11 for those interested. Read more here).

Whenever we go backpacking at a new park we have never been to, I look up hikes on backpacker.com. For those of you unfamiliar with The Narrows, like we were, it is a river that runs at the base of a deep gorge (at times 2,000 feet deep), running about 16 miles in length, and at times only 20 feet wide! You spend much of your time hiking directly in the water – with your hiking shoes on because of rocks. It’s a crapshoot what the water level will be. At times hikers may have to swim because it is so deep. For us, the water level was lower – typically below our knees. A few times it came to our thighs, and once it came up to my lower back. There are times when, if a flash flood were to happen, you have no higher ground to get to. We were fortunate to have the water level we had and no danger of flash floods (read more about Narrows conditions here).

You can get a one-day permit to hike the narrows, which would be about 12 hours straight of hiking (almost entirely in water) – kudos to those who have been able to do that! We were thankful to split our trip into two portions: hiking about 7.5 hours the first day and 4 hours the second day. Unlike the rest of the park which was a zoo of people, the Narrows was wonderfully peaceful and serene…until about the last 2 hours when you encounter people hiking up the water from the base (accessible inside Zion National Park).

The terrain changed quite a bit on our hike from top to bottom, as you can see in pictures. From meadow-like hiking to rock formations on one side of the river, to being completely surrounded by huge rock formations. The view up was just gorgeous! We were blown away by God’s creation around us!!

On our hike, we ran into Search & Rescue bringing a man with a broken leg downstream. There were LOTS of them taking turns walking with the boat, or just walking down stream and helping when it came to extra rocky spots. We also had the occasional opportunity to explore an off-shooting slot canyon. But mostly we just walked down the river (with our $5 rented river stick).

We are so glad that we ventured out and explored new-to-us territory! It is definitely worth reading/researching an area you are considering going to before backpacking there. Knowing where water sources are, what weather to anticipate for gear, and dangers to be mindful of are so important for safety is crucial. And as always, pack in and pack out and be good stewards of the Earth. :)

Thanks so much, Merrythought, for letting us share our adventures with you! ~The Grimms~

PLEASE NOTE:: For people who aren’t regular backpackers, we don’t recommend making last minute backpacking/hiking trips like this. For seasoned backpackers like Andy & Lyndsay, who have enough experience with these kind of trips (they both do them regularly), it’s okay; but if you’re a non-experienced backpacker, make sure to plan these trips well in advance and really do your research on the area. Lyndsay knew The Narrows could be dangerous, and they were prepared for it (they did research before leaving, they took the time on Saturday when they got their permits to read about it at the visitors center, they rented the sticks and waterproofed their gear by putting everything in baggies and/or waterproof camping bags, etc.), so please use common sense and plan wisely.

Lyndsay will be sharing more photos from the trip on her blog, Grimm Tales, soon – so check there if you’d like to see more! And if you’re interested in more camping posts, we recently celebrated our love of camping with a Camp Week here on the blog, be sure to check out those posts!

DIY Hammock

DIY Hammock @themerrythoughtWhat better way is there to spend a lazy summer afternoon than hanging in a cozy hammock – by the creek, no less! I’m dreaming of being back here while I’m sitting behind my desk at work today. This DIY takes a few hours to make but is totally worth it! Plus, it’s pretty lightweight and you can roll it up and take it on all of your adventures with you!
DIY Hammock @themerrythought What you need:
-Canvas Drop Cloth (I used the leftovers from the Hanging Lounge Chair.)
-Sewing Machine
-1/2″ Grommet Kit
-Trim (I got 3 yds worth)
-Hammer
-Rope (Look for 250+lb weight limit)
-Metal Hoop or Carabiner with appropriate weight capacity

How to make it:
-Cut 4′ x 7′ piece of canvas.
**-If long sides aren’t finished already (mine came stitched) double fold about 1/4″ in and straight stitch.
-On short ends, double fold 1.5″ flaps and iron. Make sure you’re folding down toward the underside of the canvas. Straight stitch 1/4″ in from the inside of the fold.
-Zig-zag stitch the trim to the long sides of the canvas.
-Measure out holes for 9 grommets, evenly spaced, on each end of the hammock. Follow instructions on the grommet kit to attach grommets. *Using a heavy hammer will help cut the hole for the grommet.
-Cut 18 pieces of 7′ long rope. Put a rope through each of the grommets and pull all of the ends together.
-Loop ends around the metal hoop and secure with an extra piece of rope. I tied mine using the same technique I used for the straps of the Market Bag. Make sure to tie it as tight as possible.
-Hang it up!
DIY Hammock @themerrythoughtDIY Hammock @themerrythought I’m thinking we all deserve to spend the rest of our summer days relaxing in a hammock sipping some lemonade… right?

xo. Caitlin

Summer Style // BeGood Clothing

Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Foliage @themerrythought Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothing Summer Style @themerrythought for @begoodclothingI’ve been living in breezy basics this summer. I have a few go-to tops that are on rotate all week (and don’t get washed nearly as often as they should…) and this silk tank just won itself a spot in the rotation. It’s soft and light – perfect for the humid days we’ve been having. I pair it with high-waisted skirts for work and then swap them for some wrap pants in the afternoons.

Justin snapped these photos for me last week as a storm was just rolling out – we’ve had our fair share of crazy storms around here this week!

Tank: c/o BeGood Clothing, Wrap Pants: Gift, Sandals: Target (last year), Horn Necklace: DIY
Photos: Justin Michau

xo. Caitlin