Menu Monday: Cheesy Seashell Pasta

Firstly, sorry for the late post tonight, everyone. I thought I set this to publish, whoops!


Secondly, y’all know how much I love easy dishes, and this is one of our regular menu items over here at our casa. It’s easy, filling, and super tasty. I re-heated it at the office today and everyone just about died.

Ingredients (Sorry, no pic of this)

  • 1 package of seashell pasta (I like the little ones, but the big ones work great).
  • 1 carton of cherry or grape tomatoes.
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 loaf of mozzarella cheese (standard sized, the big round ones).
  • olive oil
  • salt and peppa


  1. Cook the pasta as instructed on the box. (usually entails putting it in boiling water and letting it do it’s thing). I add about 3 tablespoons olive oil here.

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    This is what cooking pasta looks like.

  2. Cut up everything else. I dice up the mozzarella pretty well, and the basil leaves and garlic as well. I slice the tomatoes in half. You could use any kind of tomatoes I GUESS, but I like the sweetness and consistency of cherry tomatoes the best.
    this is what chopped up things look like.

    this is what chopped up things look like.


  3.  Finally, put everything in a bowl together and mix well with about 1/8 cup olive oil. The mozzarella will melt into a delicious thing and the spices are amazing. Enjoy!


    nom nom nom

    nom nom nom

Travel Tips: Backcountry Hygiene

When you are out enjoying the wild blue yonder, it’s easy to forget about taking good care of yourself! Keeping clean is part of staying healthy! Here are some easy tips for staying lemony-fresh in the great outdoors!!

Staying clean is especially important when traveling in new places!

Staying clean is especially important when traveling in new places!

1. Brush them teeth!  Many people forget to pack essential items, like toothbrushes, when they are backpacking. Pack a lightweight travel toothbrush ( I like ones like this that the handle turns into a cap: Butler G-U-M Travel Toothbrush). Don’t forget an environmentally friendly toothpaste! ( I like Tom’s Of Maine)

2. I briefly alluded to this above, but be a good steward of the earth with your products. I like to use natural products that won’t harm the environment I’m traveling in. This includes your soap! I like Dr. Bronner’s in Peppermint, in small travel-sized bottles from REI. You can buy bigger bottles and refill the travel one. It’s a concentrated soap, so a few drops go a long way! Scrub your hands, don’t just use hand sanitizer.

3. Alcohol is the active ingredient in hand sanitizer. Carry a small bottle of rubbing alcohol and some cotton balls. Before you go to bed each night rub a cotton ball of alcohol on your feet, in your armpits, and around your groin (not on your lady parts, but in the vicinity!) . This will kill bacteria that might spread during a cozy night in your sleeping bag.

4. When digging your catholes, make sure you are being tidy with your “business”. It goes without saying that poo germs are not good for you, and the only way to prevent them is by being super diligent with washing your hands, even in the woods.

5. This one’s for the ladies. Make yourself a period kit when you are traveling in the woods at “that time of the month”. I carry an opaque bag that I just use for this purpose. In it I carry 3 zip lock bags. 1) for new fresh tampons (without applicators, if you can handle it), 2) for baby wipes, so you can feel fresh, and 3) for all the trash, wipes, and used tampons that cannot go into your cathole. AND THEY CAN’T. Because this is in an opaque bag, no one can see it, so there is no reason to freak out.  If you are hanging a bear bag, this should also be hung in it.


A few more useful products:

  • Pack Towels are really nice and dry really well. Great if you plan on taking a tip and don’t want to drip-dry.
  • GoToobs are great containers to pack up other hygiene products (or snacks!). I like to pack sunscreen in them…and applesauce.
  • All Good Goop Balm is great for moisturizing rough skin.
  • GSI Trowel A trusty trowel is so important for eco-friendly outdoors travel.

Hope these tips help y’all stay fresh on the trail!

interacting with wildlife (even bugs and harmless reptiles) is not clean. Have fun, but clean up after!

interacting with wildlife (even bugs and harmless reptiles) is not clean. Have fun, but clean up after!

Menu Monday: Citrus Bow Tie Pasta

This recipe is one of my all time favorites. I found it on Whole Foods a while ago, and I’ve adapted it a bit to  make it simpler and cheaper. I love Whole Foods, but seriously…the “Whole Paycheck” moniker is true life.

Citrus Bow Tie Pasta

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  • 2-3 Roma Tomatos (or cherry tomatos sliced in half!)
  • 1 Avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/2 cup Feta Cheese
  • Cilantro or Mint
  • 1 package bow-tie pasta (farfalle)
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil


1. Put the farfalle in a pot and cook as directed on package.

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2. Dice up the Tomatos, Avocado, Onion, and Cilantro. You can use as much cilantro as you like because it is delicious.

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3. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice from 1 lemon and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Try an infused olive oil if you’re feeling fancy.

2013-02-03 14.03.214.When your noodles are done, put them in a large bowl, and top with Cheese.

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5.Then add everything else and mix well!

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6. Serve warm!

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This is a great, filling, light pasta, and one of our favorites. (V just saw me writing this post up online and asked if we could have it for dinner tomorrow!) Enjoy!

Travel Tips: Yellowstone National Park

One of the most amazing opportunities I have ever had was to spend six months working at Yellowstone National Park. I worked for the Yellowstone Co-Op Employee Recreation Program which is essentially the coolest job ever…because you get to live and work in Yellowstone, and yet…entirely avoid tourists. I learned a lot at this job, spending most of my days hiking and backpacking in the Yellowstone Wilderness. Between this and several family vacations to Yellowstone, here are my must have items and tips for a Yellowstone Traveler.

A Chilly May night in Yellowstone!

A Chilly May night in Yellowstone!


1.  Layers and clothing for all types of weather. It snowed a little every month I was there, and there was rain. Mind you, I was there during the spring and summer! We also had warm days and sunburns. Plan for all kinds of weather.

2. Waterproof Boots. Not water resistant. Not ankle boots. Waterproof. I am a big chaco wearer, so this was a challenge for me, but having access to some solid, high-quality boots will make or break your trip. I sprained my ankle 8 miles in to a 20 mile hike. It was a huge bummer.

3. Bear Spray no, it is not cheap. Hopefully you will never have to use it.  But really, it is worth the price for the added safety. If you go into any ranger station they can teach you how to safely use it.


4. Along the same lines, you will need the equipment for a bear bag and the understanding of how to properly hang one if you are doing any backcountry camping. Yellowstone bears are too smart for bear canisters, but the backcountry campsites have poles for hanging bear bags. Here’s some tips on how from the youtubes.

5. Trails Illustrated Maps by National Geographic. You can get one for the whole park, or ones for each of the regions. These maps are AWESOME trail maps, and the regional ones show all the backcountry camping sites. Back country camping is FREE in Yellowstone, you just have to go to a ranger station and reserve a space (and get a 20 minute bear safety lesson), so this can be a great resource. I highly recommend it.

Candy at Boulder City

Bouldering in the Tetons, just south of YNP. (do you dig my sweet top and horrible brown hair? 2009 was a rough year)

6. A decent camera. I know that not everyone is a huge photo person, but my camera crapped out halfway through the summer and I missed out on a lot of amazing moments with wildlife and views galore. You will regret it if you do not bring at least a decent point and shoot camera.

7. A Ceramic Water Purifier.  The water at YNP has parasites from all the animals and it is very silty and muddy. You will want a high-quality purifier because giardia is not a fun thing for your guts. A simple paper filter system will not stand up and will be ruined after 2-3 uses. We at YCERP used the MSR Sweetwater filter which was easy to clean on the go.

Mammoth Hotsprings, Yellowstones(c) Candy Smith, 2006

Mammoth Hotsprings, Yellowstone
(c) Candy Smith, 2006

8.  Do not miss the “tourist stops”. There is a reason why the Old Faithful Area is so popular! It’s beautiful!!! The boardwalks and hotels are amazing there. Take a half a day to trek around the geothermal features (the Riverside Geyser is amazing!). I also recommend Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt Lodge, and Moose Falls at the South Entrance. These are great stops that are right off the side of the road and are easily accessible. Even if you are going for a back-country  trip, have a nice dinner or picnic lunch at one of these locations. They are truly beautiful.

9. Bring a Bathing Suit! There are some amazing swimming holes at Yellowstone where hot springs are inside of rivers or waterfalls and they make for amazing, relaxing swimming! Make sure you are only going into hot springs in these sanctioned areas, other places in the park you can burn your skin off. My favorites are the Firehole River, and Moose Falls.


Morning Glory Pool, My first night at Yellowstone


Yellowstone Upper Falls (c) Candy Smith 2009


Fairy Falls, Yellowstone. This is about a 1/4 mile hike from the trailhead

10. A healthy imagination and quest for adventure. Yellowstone is truly unlike anywhere else in the world. Between the wild animals, beautiful scenery, and amazing geothermal features, you can expect nothing short of an amazing experience at Yellowstone National Park.

Enjoy your time in Yellowstone!