Truly Tuscany: A farm-to-table family adventure from Outdoor Families Magazine

FINALLY the Tuscan leg of our epic Italian adventure has been published and I can't wait for you to read it!! 


Driving south from Milan’s Malpensa Airport, husband at the helm, our little rental car wound through the lush green of Italy’s interior, allowing us a view of every quaint hamlet, ancient mountain tunnel, and roadside espresso stand. This first leg of our inaugural Italian road trip, around 250 miles, would eventually deposit us in the Chianti region deep in the heart of Tuscany, but at the moment it was all about staring at scenery. Spellbound, we observed a heavy mist as it slowly evaporated to reveal the trademark pencil-thin cypress trees we had been romantically imagining for 20 years. As our daughter sang along to the Mamma Mia soundtrack on repeat in the CD player, my husband and I grinned knowingly at each other, finally smack-dab in the middle of our dream. To read the full article, go to Outdoor Families Magazine!

Outdoor Families Magazine: Helping families across the globe fall in love with the Great Outdoors

It is no secret that I have been pretty absent from you all, my beloved Mommy and Daddy Hikers! I certainly didn't expect it to happen, but about 11 months ago life took off on a completely different trajectory and I, being the heart-follower that I am, went for it! 

Not only have I been busy developing and executive producing a pretty awesome new television series, but more importantly to you guys, I have been busting my butt working on a project that probably would have never entered into my life had I not started this blog. So it is with the greatest pride and excitement that I  announce to you, my loyal readers, the launch of my newest baby! 

Outdoor Families Magazine! OFM launches in t-minus four days (January 15, 2015) and it will be a free digital magazine that encourages families toward lifelong appreciation of outside spaces. The magazine, available at http://www.outdoorfamiliesonline.com will strive to enrich the lives of multi-generational families worldwide by providing unparalleled outdoor and adventure related content meant to inspire a connection to, participation in, and stewardship of the natural world.


January Issue's Cover
To commemorate our inaugural issue January 15, 2015, Outdoor Families Magazine will also launch the “Great Family Adventure” Photo Contest, inviting families from around the world to show off their awesome family adventures pictures! At the end of the two week contest, we'll be presenting one lucky family with a two-night stay and three adventure-packed days on southern California’s Central Coast in the city of Oxnard, gateway to the Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary. In addition, our finalists will receive cool prizes from ten other awesome outdoor retailers including Hi-Tec footwear and Sierra Trading Post.


The magazine’s advisory board is comprised of more than 30 business and thought leaders in the outdoor family and adventure market, including my partners, our managing editor, Erin Kirkland, author of Alaska on the Go: Exploring the 49th state with children and our operations manager, Traci Lehman who will also be leading the magazine's team of research and development experts who are passionate about supporting our magazine's mission by documenting the benefits of outdoor time and identifying the barriers families face with regards to getting outside, so we can face these issues head on and find real world solutions.

Outdoor Families Magazine will be the go-to resource hub, supporting our already robust, engaged #OutdoorFamilies community and connecting with others who are interested in obtaining information related to family outdoor sports, activities and play, environmental stewardship, volunteering, adventure travel, mind and body nourishment and green living resources, ideas and tips. 


When I got into this crazy blogging world I never, in a million years, would have expected it to lead me where I am today; a member of The North American Travel Journalists Association, founder of a magazine, part of an absolutely incredible community of people. Throughout my wee three years, the one thing I noticed blatantly missing was a lack of relatable content available to families who simply want motivation and inspiration to get outdoors with their kids. I was dumbfounded by it actually and it is our hope that this magazine will fill that void. There are a lot of us out there, families who choose to go off-the-beaten-path, with our kids right beside us, along for the adventure. In the rapidly-growing market of outdoor family adventure we intend to thoughtfully lead the movement. I hope you'll join us for the ride!

Join the Outdoor Families community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube!

How to Camp with Kids and Not Lose Your Mind

Picture this, a warm cup of cocoa next to a babbling brook, smore-covered, smiling faces glowing in the light of a campfire, adventure-packed days exploring every type of flora and fauna Mother Nature has to offer. At least that’s how euphoric camping with kids sounds, in your mind.  

Now let’s bring it back to reality. Even for the most seasoned adult campers, throwing kids in to the mix takes camping to an entirely different level. As nature-loving parents, we know how important it is to get our kids out and in to the great outdoors as much as possible, so here are a few camping tips and tricks to keep organized and, most importantly have fun, so no one has to lose their mind.  


Create a Kid’s Toy Bin

This one little tip just might change your life forever. In our family, we are big on bins to organize camping gear. There is one for kitchen supplies, one for pantry items and one smashed full of our kid’s favorite toys. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, given you’re out in the middle nature with so much to explore and discover, but kids still get bored. Consider, also keeping this bin off limits when you’re not sleeping under the stars. It will make it all the more appealing when your little one finally gets to unpack it from the crammed car.

Don’t know what to put in your bin? Here are some ideas:  
Bubbles  
Glow Sticks  
Kite  
Markers, Colors & Paper  
Magnifying Glass  
Binoculars 
Cards 
Travel Checkers  

Camp with Awesome Friends  

The best gift you can give your kid (and yourself), on a camping adventure is an adventure buddy their own age, leaving you and YOUR friends a bit more time for rest and relaxation. Camping with friends also offers some pretty great perks like splitting up campsite chores and on the off chance you forgot the wine bottle opener, your awesome camping friends have your back. There’s also something pretty special that occurs when you make camping communal. Together, through a shared experience of Mother Nature, an amazing tribe can form, and in turn a beautiful group of kids emerge, growing up together with shared experiences and discoveries.  

Get the Kids Involved  

Camping trips offer a whole host of ways to engage your kids. Let them pack their camping bag, allow them to help set up the tent, delegate a few campsite chores and you’ll watch your generally uninvolved kid get energized by the adventure. Hand over a bit of the control and you will see them adopt a new-found sense of ownership of their own experience. Letting kids lead the way is an incredible confidence builder and helps to shape their decision-making skills.  

[Gear Review] The LifeStraw® by Vestergaard + Giveaway

Next year, our family's number one bucket list item is a family backpacking trip. We had a backpacking trip planned this past May, but for various reasons, we had to put it off. I think it was for the best considering we are still doing research and budgeting to buy the essentials that we'll need like a smaller backpacking tent and more compact sleeping bags and mats.

One must-have on any backpacking trip is water. You can never have enough of it, especially with little ones embarking on long hikes, but water is heavy! Water bladders can contribute to over half of the weight you have to carry for a family of three to stay hydrated and let's face it, the more you can lighten your load, the better! That's why when Vestergaard contacted me requesting a review of their product, The LifeStraw® I jumped at it!

We have researched tons of filtration systems. We took into consideration that we almost always prefer treks, hikes and camps that are on some sort of waterway and that is why The LifeStraw® seemed like the best choice for our needs!

But, there's another, more important reason why I love this product so much, it's Vestergaard's global humanitarian efforts. Each consumer purchase of LifeStraw® products provides one school child in Africa with clean water for an entire school year. Let me repeat that: EACH consumer purchase of LifeStraw® products provides one school child in Africa with clean water for an ENTIRE school YEAR. WOW! If there were more companies out there doing what Vestergaard is doing, the world would indeed be a better place!


LifeStraw® is an award-winning point-of-use portable water filter that transforms microbiologically contaminated water into safe, clean drinking water. It is ideal for a variety of users outside of the home, from hikers and campers to people displaced by natural disasters.  

Features and Specs
  • Retail Price $19.95
  • Lightweight--only 56 grams (or 2 ounces) 
  • Uses hollow fibre microfiltration technology 
  • Purifies a minimum of 1000 litres (264 gallons) of water 
  • Removes virtually all bacteria (99.9999 percent) and protozoan parasites (99.9 percent) that can contaminate water, including giardia 
  • Reduces turbidity (muddiness) by filtering particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns 
  • Made of durable plastic  
  • Chemical-free 
  • Doesn’t require electrical power, batteries or replacement parts–it’s powered by user-generated suction
How It Works

LifeStraw® uses advanced hollow fiber technology. This is a highly efficient method of filtration. Hollow fiber membrane requires no chemicals like chlorine or iodine.  

  1. Water enters and is forced through narrow fibers under high pressure. 
  2. Hollow fibers trap bacteria, protozoa, and other contaminants which are flushed out by backwashing. 
  3. Clean water exits through tiny pores in the walls of the hollow fibers. 
  4. Filtered water is safe to drink. 
Easy to Use  

Anyone who can use a drinking straw can use a LifeStraw®. Simply draw the unfiltered water through the LifeStraw®, blow air back through the straw to flush and clear it after drinking.

The LifeStraw® product and information have been provided by Vestergaard.

And now *drum roll* without further ado, here's the giveaway! Enter below to win your very own LifeStraw®! Contiguous US Residents only please! Good luck!! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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