Bass Lake is a little lake in the middle of California.
It is home to nearly all of my favorite childhood memories, and I hope that it will be home to my girls' fondest memories as well.

My dad started coming to Bass Lake when he was little.
My grandpa loved the outdoors.
Hiking, camping, fishing.
He instilled that love into each of his five children.

My grandma was a good sport and came along.
She was more of a city girl, but knew how much it meant to her family.
When my twin uncles were babies she would tie their cloth diapers to a rope and row them out into the lake to wash them.
For reals.
No Pampers in those days, friends.
Then she would boil them in a huge pot over the campfire.
She recently passed away and we celebrated her long and colorful life at Bass Lake this year.
All of my aunts, uncles and cousins were there to share stories.  Out of all of them, the diaper one will always be my favorite.
Bass Lake doesn't exist without dogs.
Lots and lots of dogs.
Labradors to be exact.
They are a constant source of entertainment and a bit of splashing or trampling if you aren't careful.
Here is my dad and I when I was about 18 months old.
We spent all day at the beach, and all night by the campfire.  Cousins.  Aunts and Uncles.  Friends.
Playing.  Exploring.  Learning.  Talking.  Being together.
Simple.  The best, best, best kind of vacation.
I feel like camping is in your blood, or it isn't.
You either are raised a camper, or marry a camper and go camping just to be nice.
I am thankful to be both raised a camper, as well as married to a camper.
We even camped for part of our honeymoon.  On purpose.
Our hopes are to raise three little campers, and although it is so much harder in many ways, the stripped down simplicity, free of distractions, is honestly the best way to connect and make memories.
Some kids grow up pretending to be princesses, superheroes or pirates.
My brother and I grew up pretending to be at Bass Lake.  All year long we would go camping in our back yard.  Asking over and over again...
When are we leaving for Bass Lake?

In two more months we are going back.
I can't wait.
I want my kids to have pictures like this.
Memories like this.
Bonds like this.
Once campfire scented load of laundry at a time.

I love this picture.
For so many reasons.

It's weird.
I love weird.

But most of all because it reminds me of a moment.  A simple moment.  But one that I will hold dear to my heart as time goes on.

I was snapping pics of the girls.  Just sort of practicing.  Learning.  They were playing.  We had just spent a few hours in the car and they desperately needed to get their wiggles out.

Lucy was being wild.  Or Lucy was being normal.  Same diff.
She fell.
She needed me.
As she ran screaming, I clicked the shutter one last time, with my left hand and the camera at my hip, expecting little.

I scooped her up, got the requisite band aids and went on with our day.

When I loaded the pictures on to my computer this one surprised me.  I hardly even remembered taking it with all of the crying and the drama.

But here is my tough little girl, in her favorite shoes and favorite pants, running to me.  Actually needing me.  It is beautiful.  I am thankful it captured a moment.  A moment that won't always be.

She will outgrow the pants.  She will outgrow the shoes.  But she will never outgrow the need for her mama.

Tomorrow it your very last chance to shop from the beauty that is 

Why does my heart beat faster when I think about owning my own piece of the pretty?

Jeannett and I are trying to hash out a custody agreement to share this starfish deliciousness.
If only she didn't live three hours away.
Because I know that when it was my turn for visitation was over, I would not be able to send it back her way.  Then Judge Wapner, or Judge Judy, or whoever is the current TV judge right now, would get involved.  It would get weird.  Who knew that a gorgeous necklace had the power to ruin a friendship?
So I guess I should just keep it.  
360 days a year at my house.
5 days at hers.
6 days on leap year, obvees.
She should just let me.

 Grab a friend and Judge Judy.
Grab some pretty.
Did I mention that there is a huge sale section?
Or how many items are under $40?
Shop your little heart out by clicking here.

All you need to do is enter my name 
{Julie Carson}
as the hostess by clicking the 
"Find Your Hostess"
tab in the upper right hand corner before you shop.

A brain that never stops thinking of new things to make?
Inhaling too much spray paint?

One or all of the above is at work here.

It started with a frame.
The prettiest frame in the world.

The infamous Ung Drill from Ikea.

18 months ago I bought two of these beauties for Halley and Lucy's room, but I never got around to painting them or getting photos to put inside.
Then we moved.  Their room is different, the walls are different.  The Ung Drills needed a new home.  So I planned on getting one more, so each of the girls had their own.  It was to be the crowning glory of our staircase.
Except for one problem.
Time after time Ikea would be out of stock.  My third frame seemed elusive.  Hiss.

So the project got shelved.  At least until my crazy tray making spray paint extravaganza.  The tarp was out, the cans were open, so I searched for more things to paint.  Out came the Ung Drill.  A fresh coat of turquoise embraced it.

I went to get the other frame.  Moved the turquoise one.  Lookie at what I found...
The most stunning outline I ever did see.
An outline that certainly could not be wasted on my dropcloth.

An outline with a greater purpose.
A funky chalkboard, fill the nekkid walls, purpose.

I needed boards.  I needed that third frame.  I needed to take advantage of this accidental discovery.

I checked online.  The frame was in stock.
Off we went.  The girls went to the Magical Forest (supervised play place) while Janey and I shopped.  They were happy, I was happy.  I used up every single one of the 60 minutes of freedom to buy that frame.  Thank you Ikea play place!!!  I am pretty much going to make that a summer staple.  Even if I don't need a thing.  Hello.  It's magical. It's a forest.  They watch my kids.  For free.

Days later I hauled my girls to Home Depot for more spray paint and wood.
How I love being a girl at Home Depot.  Especially a girl with a cart full of kids.  Everyone helps me.  Everyone carries my stuff.  I don't need to tell them that I know that place as well as I know Target.  That 99.99% of Home Depot purchases are made by yours truly.

But I digress...
I found some 1/4"  MDF paneling and had it cut by the ever so helpful Home Depot employee.  Three cuts.  No charge.  See why I like being a girl?

Then I brought it home for my crazy plan.
On went the primer.  On went a happy lemony yellow.
Then I waited.
I blogged.
I teased.
I get giddy when it is spray paint time.
The rattle rattle of the little ball inside is just the most wonderful sound!
On went the pink.  The happy, Rustoleum Berry Pink.  Adore.
I waited again for the paint to dry.
Total torture.

Then I repeated with the Rustoleum Key Lime and another coat of Valspar's Petrol Blue.

More waiting.
More torture.

Until finally they were dry enough for me to do a coat of chalkboard paint.
Then another.
The drying.  The torture.

By now it was getting dark.
But even in the darkness, I could tell that they were so fun, so quirky, so me.

All for less than $10.
A serendipitous by-product of a project that I was going to do anyway.
Here they sit.
In our guest room, which is awaiting my sis in law and her family who is flying in from Europe to stay with us.  I can't wait to write silly messages on them.

All I need is my mom to come over with her nail gun and help me hang them.  She likes being a girl in Home Depot too.  A girl who buys nail guns.  That is how we roll in our family.  It's awesome.

Now I need to order pictures for the frames.  That is, until something else distracts me.

Welcome to the crazy that is my brain.

This is something that happens all the time.
All. The. Time.

I have a project.
That I am desperate to do.
But then I don't get to it.

Until finally I do.  I have everything that I need.
It is at the top of the queue.
In fact often it is a simple project.
This one was a simple as it gets.

Just spray paint some frames.
I could do that in my sleep, although the stink would most likely wake me up.

So, back to the project.

I gather my supplies.
Block out some time.
Start painting.

But then something happens.
Something unexpected.
Something crazy awesome.

The current project suddenly turns into a whole new project.
A new project that needs new supplies.

Instead of finishing the first one, I abandon it completely and begin to plan the new and exciting one.

Exhibit A:
The remnants of the original project.
That segued into the current project.

For now, I am waiting for paint to dry,
and thinking of new projects.

We are parents of a kindergarten graduate!
Ten seconds ago she was an angry newborn, fresh from the hospital.
Now she is a sweet, compassionate, smart, reading machine.

I won't be making any of these headbands for the shop until fall, 
but you can win your own at Etsy It Up. 

Visit Where Women Create for a chance to win your own chalkboard.
{Frito Salad & Pineapple Coconut cupcake recipes coming soon.}

Salted caramel cupcakes in a jar.
All to celebrate a hawt mama-to-be.

Teacher gifts for sweet women who poured so much into my little ones' lives.

Pink.  Barbie. Sprinkler.  Hopscotch.  Brilliant.

Lastly, some posts that have changed, taught and encouraged my heart this week.

from my fave Ashley Ann.

Our friends The Howerton's survived an appearance on The View.

Every word.
Every post.
I love her.
You will love her too.

Lastly, I have some nekkid flip flops that are screaming for some cuteness.

Happy first day of summer!

The votes were counted.
Then counted again.
It was super close.
(If winning by over 1,000 votes is close, that is.)

But just like that, my illiterate baby's dreams came true.
{Do not fear.  No iPad's were harmed in the shooting of this picture.
Perhaps, close to harmed/ destroyed/ tears falling forever.  
But eventually survived unscathed. 
She did however, sacrifice a shoe in the process.}

I got all techy and installed Wi-Fi by myself, not once, but twice in anticipation.  
Turns out our hand me down Apple AirPort was made back before the Revolutionary War.  Or at least the equivalent of that in technology years.
I may or may not have had no internet for two days in the process. 

So date night involved a trip to the Apple store to fetch a new AirPort, as well as to play with an iPad for the very first time.  I have up until yesterday, quite a dysfunctional relationship with them.  I couldn't look at them, couldn't watch the commercials, certainly couldn't touch one.  Because I know myself.  The prone to obsession part of myself is dark and dangerous.  One minute with a real iPad and I would become that crazy ex-girlfriend that just doesn't get the hint.  I would plot and obsess and talk way to much about it.  Then I would start counting down the days until my birthday on the chalkboard.  My December birthday.
So I stayed away.  For all of our health and sanity.

Until Nathan changed everything.  With an email and a video, suddenly my iPad dreams seemingly appeared possible.

But not without you.  Or your votes.  Your crazy, awesome amount of votes.  Smilegen didn't know what in the world to do with me.  Or my epic posse.

Together we can take over the world.  Or at least get me free stuff.  Same diff.

So thank you.  So very, very, very much.
It is even more amazing than I had imagined.

Seriously.  Even.  More.  Amazing.
Times a billion.

With all that to say, the happy new owner of the bribery goodies is:

{The horse has nothing to do with anything, except I have been playing around with this digital kit.}

Jenny, send me your deets and I will send you your treats.

Off to play with my lovely, wonderful, best ever, iPad.

My little scheme seems to be working brilliantly!
Save any last minute tricky tricks by purse dog,  the pathetic, illiterate baby has earned herself some crackers!

But still vote if you haven't yet!
Anything could happen.
Plus, the goodies are still up for grabs.

To distract myself from the iPad mayhem, I am working on a fun tutorial for my sweet friend Heather at Blessed Little Nest.
She his having a week filled with guest bloggers and amazing giveaways.  A perfect way to kick off your summer fun.

I am so excited!

How about a sneak peek of my little project that I will be sharing on Monday?
The same project that once it is finished, Heather is going to give away?

Here you go:
Want another clue?
It starts with chalk and ends with board.

Stop on over and tell Heather that I said hello.
She is phenomenal.
I truly am so inspired by her and her sweet family, and I know that  you will just love her.

There is even a cute, summery giveaway to get the party started.

Remember this pathetic face?
I am not beyond using her tears for my personal gain.
Just being honest.
Want to know why she was crying?
Because her sister was eating saltines and she was not.

Oh, to have the troubles of a one year old.

She only cries if somebody near her has food and she doesn't.
So don't go calling CPS on me.
She clearly is not starving in any sense of the word.

Anyway, a local dentist is having a little competition.
For an iPad.

The picture that makes the most people smile, wins.

Right now, Little Miss Drama is in fourth place.
She is lagging behind two dogs (yawn) and a guy pretending to hold up The Leaning Tower of Pisa (super original).

She is going to 
the dogs and tourist guy.

Her Mama is going to get an iPad.
You are going to help.

Because I am going to bribe you.
Not past that either.

Did I mention that it is for an

What is it going to take?

How about a Yo-yo necklace?

A sign?

A headband?

A pin?

How about all of them?

It's an iPad on the line.

I know what you are thinking.
You are all:
"Whatevs.  I want my own iPad!
I don't want to help you, oh random person, get one."

I'm totally cool with that.
You can have your own iPad. 
That is after I win, obvs.

They are giving away one next week.  Then another the week after that.  
I'll even vote for you.  Just step off, okay?  
This week is my time to shine.

What's the catch?
Because there always is one.
They can't make it easy.
In fact they make it nearly impossible.

Good thing I have friends in high places with crazy skills, who make videos for me explaining how to vote.  Because even rocket surgeons couldn't figure out this janky system.

Please watch Nathan's awesomesauce video.
He should work for Apple.
(Oh wait, he does!)

{video too small?  click here to watch the larger version.}

Clear as mud?
GO HERE to vote.

You can vote four times.
(You have to have a Facebook or Twitter account to vote.  But if you are under the age of 99 I am assuming that you have one, right?)

Get my baby an iPad.

Leave me a comment after you vote.

Get your husband, your mama, his mama, your neighbor, your neighbor's dog, your neighbor's dog's mama, etc. to vote.

The more people you get to vote, the more entries you get in the bribery prize package.
Voting closes at midnight Pacific time on Monday June 14th.

Lets get bald baby an iPad.

You might win some swag.

Plus I'll be your best friend forever.

But sadly, we can't hang out, since I'll be too busy playing with my new iPad.

{Voting is not required to enter.  It just would be really cool.}

Take two rolls of 99¢ streamers and three packs of $1.00 tissue.
Decorate for a pink and yellow party.
Instantly fall in love with how happy it looks.
Proceed to leave it up for a month, because of aforementioned happiness.

Sadly take it down for a Lakers party, after failing to convince your darling husband that pink and yellow is exactly the same as purple and yellow.

They better win.
They better.

{Tissue pom pom instructions can be found here.}

For my birthday Heather baked cupcakes that nearly made me pass out.
They were that good.
Salty.  Caramel.  Chocolate.
Are there three better words?
How badly do you want to make them right now?

Preheat your oven.
It is Salted Caramel Cupcake time.
Cheaty, cheater style.

You will need:

One box chocolate cake mix and ingredients to make it
(My fave is German Chocolate.)
Sea salt
4-5 Skor bars
(Heath bars will suffice, but Skor has my heart.)
Caramel ice cream topping
Vanilla Bean Buttercream 
(Recipe below)
Squeeze bottle

Bake your cupcakes according to package directions.

Want to know a random fact about me?
I crack eggs with one hand.
I know.  Hardcore, right?

{Here comes the cheaty part.
You can make your own caramel.
Martha would.
Or you can salt up store bought caramel.
I promise that I won't tell.}

When the cupcakes are almost done you will make the salty caramel goodness.
Pour caramel into a measuring cup.
Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt per 8oz. of caramel.
Warm in the microwave for one minute.

Pour the now warm and salted caramel in to a squeeze bottle.

As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven,
inject caramel into each one.
Then move them on to a cooling rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling it is time to smash the Skor bars.

It is really easy if you use a hammer.
In fact it is my favorite part.
Smashing things is awesome.
Cooking always should involve a little chaos.

You don't even need to unwrap the bars.  Just hammer away.
Then when they are good and destroyed, open the wrapper and pour the pieces into a bowl.  
Then I set aside all of the big chocolate chunks, since they look weird on top of the cupcakes.  
At this point,  I may or may not eat them.  I'd hate to be wasteful!

I love Heather's buttercream recipe.
It is dreamy.
She makes her own caramel too.

I'm jealous.

While I am cool with store bought caramel, I am not cool with store bought frosting.
Once you make your own you will become a total frosting snob.
I am just being honest.
It is very, very easy and tastes so much better.
None of the chemical after taste.  
Trust me.  It is worth it.

After the cupcakes are cooled, frost them with the buttercream happiness, roll them into the Skor bar happiness, then drizzle the salted caramel happiness on top.

Happy baking.
Let me know how they turn out!