Hidden Falls Family Hike

Just in time for Father’s Day comes a Mother’s Day story to inspire your weekend as you plan for the dads in your life. A day trip to Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn.

I have an 8 year old. Wait, he’s 8 and a half. That half is very important. He’s in training to become a Beastie Boy. All ragers, pranks, loud music and fighting for one’s right to party. I have no idea where he gets this from.

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So for my 9th year as a mother, I requested a pretty simple itinerary to celebrate. I wanted to start the day with a little breakfast, a bloody mary (or two), a nature walk with my little family and dogs, then finish the day with an afternoon nap. No biggie right? Well everything was going to go as planned, but the week leading up to Mother’s Day, sickness struck our household like lightening! My son came down with a very vague illness whose primary symptoms were a low-grade fever, cough and the intense need to play hours of Minecraft. Then my husband got a stomach bug where all he could do was lay in bed and read the entire internet on his phone. It was a dire time in our house and our Mother’s Day plans were touch and go there for a bit. Fortunately by Sunday, the fog of sickness lifted just enough for my guys to pull themselves together and treat me to a lovely day.

On Mother’s Day morning, my son gifted me with flowers and a decoupaged plate with an adorable poem on it. It was enough to swell the heart with love. If this is what he thinks of when he thinks of mom, I’m very happy.

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Then we had the aforementioned breakfast at home and then hit the road for our nature walk. One of our favorite spots to wander around on nicely groomed trails is Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn. I think it’s maybe everyone’s favorite spot now because weekends draw out Disneyland sized crowds on the trails there.

It’s California-beautiful with rolling yellow hills and green, green oaks and fluffy Ponderosa pines.

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Golden poppies for days.

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And they allow leashed dogs. Even cute little hellions like this one. I’m joking, this dog is very well behaved. She is the only living thing in our home that actually does what I tell her to. [There may or may not have been random animal droppings under that pink paw icon.]

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There’s a newly refurbished overlook deck for the Hidden Falls waterfall. It’s very pretty.There are a ton of different trail loops of varying length and difficulty. Our 8 year old with his boundless energy and enthusiasm for nature can do about 4 or 5 miles so long as we keep him topped off with the right balance of snacks, water and distraction. Otherwise I’m carrying a kid 10 inches shorter than me on my back which looks about as ridiculous (and kind of precious) as you can imagine. Lol. I’m kidding! Dad carries him. It’s still precious. Thanks babe.

After the hike I was feeling positively parched! So my loves took me to Knee Deep Brewing Company just down the highway.  Knee Deep allows dogs in their tasting room, so we brought in our two, snorty old Boston Terriers who lazed about the cool concrete floors. I just looked at that snoozy heap of Bostons and suddenly a nap seemed like the greatest idea ever, so we headed home. Falling asleep is the best feeling in the world and my Mother’s Day nap was just glorious.

I’m a lucky lady to have this husband and son! They did a great job in making it a fun and mellow Mother’s Day for me. Good job guys. This effort will be duly noted with Father’s Day and somebody’s 9th birthday approaching in the coming months.

Written by Niki Ortiz Levy. She has some pretty funny stories and thoughts on her life as a parent, which you can find on her blog (CLICK HERE).

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Mason Jar Terrarium. Make it. Love it. Watch it Grow!

Nothing says, “Mini Garden,” quite like a terrarium. Terrariums are a great gift and fun craft to make with kids. Personally, watching them grow is an equally magical part of having one as each plant grows differently in whatever container you use. Succulents are a favorite these days because they are low maintenance and require very little water, which is a good thing because water is pretty rare these days in lovely Sacramento, California. Here is my step-by-step succulent terrarium using a mason jar, plants from my own garden, and tools from my kitchen.

What You Need:
Mason jar
Tiny succulents
Tiny helper hand (optional)
Potting soil (you gan get at Dollar Tree)
Small rocks (Dollar Tree)
Floral moss (Dollar Tree)
Chop stick
Tweezers
Toothpick
Spoon
Spray bottle with water
Miniature action figure (optional)

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One thing to note about terrariums is that they need drainage to prevent the roots of the plants from rotting.  There will come a day when you over-water this by accident. Drainage will give you the grace you need. It also gives you the opportunity to create great layers of colors in your jar. I am creating a jungle theme with this one, so I chose earth tones.

First, place a layer of small rocks at the base of your jar. You can choose any color rock you want! I went with river rock colors. At minimum, make sure your layer of rock covers the entire surface of the bottom of the container. The more rocks you add beyond that will add height to the overall garden inside.

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Then, add a layer of moss. Moss comes in all sorts of fun colors too! The purpose of the moss is to create a barrier between the soil and the rocks. If your moss is dry, you can lightly mist it with a spray bottle to get it to pack down. If you want a thin layer of moss, be sure the layer is still dense enough to prevent soil from slipping down into the rocks. This will create the drainage for your garden and add a layered look.

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Take a moment to choose your mini plants.  I have a small succulent garden that is slowly growing already. I decided to just pick a few of my own guys. The key: The smaller the better because it will GROW over time. I chose a small Hen and Chicks and a couple types of Sedum.

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No need to get crazy on a million plants. If the terrarium looks a little sparse don’t panic. Plan based the fact that they will grow.

Put in a layer of soil in your jar. You can spritz the dirt to moisten if it seems too dry. You only need enough soil to cover the roots of the plants, but added soil will lift your garden higher. Maybe you like that. Do what you want! You can spoon in extra soil as needed once you have them in place. I use long tweezers, a chopstick, and a toothpick to get the job done. This is the hardest part, but is fun. Tiny kid hands work great too. If you have a plant that seems to lean to one side and you can’t get it placed ‘just right,’ you can use a rock to aid in your efforts.

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Add decoration like small rocks, sand, twigs, or miniature fun stuff. I chose rocks, an army man, and a small can of beer (don’t judge me).

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Spray down the inside of the jar to rid the sides of dirt, clean the plants, and moisten the soil. Then use a tissue to, ever so GENTLY, wipe down the inside of the terrarium.

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For a mason jar, put the rim on the jar but not the lid portion. You do not want to cover the top of this container or it will mold and die. I tied some kitchen twine at the top too! Cute, but not obnoxious.

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Enjoy! With Father’s Day around the corner, this might be right up your ally! These do great in offices, in kitchens, in kid’s rooms, and you only need to lightly water them when you actually remember. And let’s face it, as parents, there is no way we will remember. But hey, your kid(s) might remind you.

Here are a few other terrariums I have done in the past to help inspire you:

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Here are some links to a few great terrarium books I use as references:
Tiny World Terrariums
Terrariums Reimagined
Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing, and Crafting With 100 Easy-Care Varieties

Written by Mariah Cook. She and her husband live in Sacramento with their one minion.