Category Archives for "Explore"

How to Hang a Hammock Without Trees

Do you know that you can enjoy hammock camping without trees? One day you may find yourself camping open spaces where there are no trees to hang your hammock tent but you can still use it.

There are different methods that you can take to use your hammock in the event that there are no trees.   

Considerations for Hammock Camping Without Trees

When you intend to use a hammock tend in a place where there are no trees, there are mainly four things that you should consider.

The first one is to ensure that you can meet the distance that is required for hanging your hammock. You must have an average distance of between 10 and 15 feet to hang your hammock. This distance can help you identify the ideal anchor points or posts.

The second thing is to ensure that you have sufficient height below your hammock. You must have a clearance of about two feet so that you do not wake up touching the ground.

The third aspect is to decide the hanging method you want to use as going to be illustrated below.

The last thing is to consider your favorite spot to hang your hammock.

Methods to Use Hammock Without Trees

When you discover that there are no suitable trees to mount your hammock, you need to be creative and resourceful. Surely there is no way that you can lie on the ground especially if you have your hammock.

There are different methods that you can use to make the hammock tent work without trees.

1. Use Posts and Poles

How to Hang a Hammock Without Trees

You can use any poles or posts that you can find within the vicinity to mount your hammock. For instance, you can make good use of fence posts, telephone poles or hiking poles if you know that you are going for camping where there are no trees. You just need to identify poles that are sturdy enough to sustain your weight when you relax in your hammock.

However, some state and national parks are placing posts specifically meant for hammock campers in different places. If you happen to camp in such park, it would be a big plus since you do not need to stress about finding poles to hang your hammock.

2. Use Portable Hammock Stands

Other hammocks come with portable stands that are designed for backpackers. When choosing the hammock with stands, you must be careful to consider the ones that are compact and light. Backpacking is usually a tedious task so you do not need to overburden yourself with extra weight.

If you are going camping in a place like a beach, having your own hammock stand is probably the best option that can guarantee you quality hammock experience.

It is crucial to make sure that the hammock is suitable for the stand before you set it up otherwise you may fall. You need to test the safety of the stands before you sleep.

How to Hang a Hammock Without Trees - using Hammock Stands

3. Use Boulders

The other creative way of hanging a hammock without trees is to use boulders. However, as a work of caution, this method of hanging a hammock on boulders can be dangerous. You need to be careful the boulders can be slippery which can lead to unprecedented falls.

The other important thing that you should remember when you decide to use boulders is to make sure that the hammock straps are strong. Boulders can be abrasive and that can cause wearing of the ropes that support the hammock. You need to make sure that the hammock is safe and secure before resigning to sleep.

4. Make Use of Truck

When you are camping in a place where there are sparse trees, you can also use the other side of your truck to support the hammock. You can find a sturdy tree then park you beside it. Make sure you leave considerable distance that is required for hanging your hammock. You can hang the other end of the hammock on the truck and the other one on the tree and can enjoy good comfort than sleeping at the back of the van.

Apart from using the above methods for hammock camping without trees, there are also certain things that you should know if you are a beginner.

The following tips can help you to improve your camping experience as well as safety.  

  • Make sure you choose a safe place that is plain and clear of rocks underneath
  • You must make sure that you buy a hammock that is intended for backpacking.
  • Try to make a perfect hang to enjoy the comfort of your hammock.
  • You should make sure that the anchor points are secure.
  • You can also use a net to keep away mosquitoes and other insects that can disrupt your peaceful rest.  

Hammock With Mosquito Net Tent

A hammock tent is your best companion when you go out camping since it gives you comfort during resting time. The coming of the summer season often means the increased frequency of hiking and camping activities.

However, summer also comes with other things like mosquitoes that can spoil your camping experience. 

While many people are used to staying in tents during their camping expeditions, these temporary shelters can be heavy, contain too many components and take a long time to set up.

But, there is a better replacement of the traditional tent in the form of the best hammock bug net

The hammock with mosquito net tent is specially designed to ensure you comfortable sleep during the night. There is nothing so irritating like waking up to a mosquito buzzing sound during the night or having an itchy face in the morning.

hammock with mosquito net and stand

There are many advantages of getting a hammock with mosquito net when you decide to go camping. There are different types of hammocks that are made of durable and high-quality nylon tents that also consist of mosquito nets.

The mosquito net is designed in such a way that it will keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay at night. With the best hammock bug net, you can enjoy the fresh summer breeze in the open at night without any fear of mosquitoes.

Advantages of a hammock with mosquito net

A hammock with mosquito net is lightweight and easy to carry especially when you are going hiking or camping. The kit is good for your back if you intend to travel long distances on foot. You do not wake up with back pain due to heavy load.

The other important aspect of the hammock tent is that it is easier to set up compared to traditional tents. You just need to identify a place with two strong trees with a short distance between where you can suspend your hammock from both ends. The mosquito tent is also foldable which makes it easy to carry.

A hammock with mosquito net is also versatile in that you can use it for various purposes such as hiking, traveling, or camping. You do not need to worry about overnight shelter when you are traveling since this special type of hammock tent is handy for the purpose.

hammock with mosquito net tent

You can also use a tent for relaxing in the backyard when you want to enjoy the warm temperature of the summer night.

A hammock tent that consists of a mosquito net is very comfortable and it is designed to ensure that mosquitoes have no access to you while you are sleeping. The tent also gives you a comfortable sleeping area in the open. This particular product is suitable for different environments since it consists of durable material that does not easily wear out.

However, some hammock tents with mosquito nets also have their shortcomings. Some of the products with the best features are expensive and this can limit your choice.

The other issue is that other tents consist of a very delicate mesh of the netting. They should always be handled with care otherwise they can be easily damaged.

Hammock tents with mosquito nets can be very big but the truth about them is that they cannot fit two people. You cannot share this tent with your partner. The straps on the tent are also shorter for hanging and this is another factor that you need to check when you buy this particular product.

When you are intending to go camping or hiking, you should make sure that you get a hammock with mosquito net tent. This is a great alternative to the popular traditional tents that are mainly used by people on hiking, camping, or fishing expeditions.

The traditional tents can be inconvenient compared to hammock tents which are easy to set up.

camping hammock with mosquito net and rainfly

A lot of hammock tents can easily fold up and they perfectly fit in small bags and they take up small space in your backpack. You also need to decide whether you need a waterproof tent or one that dries quickly when you purchase a hammock tent.

There are also tents that are only suitable for dry weather. It is also crucial to ensure that the tent suits your desired length to avoid inconvenience when you are out on a camping expedition.

The comfy of sleeping suspended in the air is also amazing and it makes your camping experience memorable. Hammocks also make your outdoor trip easy since they are convenient and easy to set up.

Apart from keeping the mosquitoes away while you sleep, the net also helps to keep away other small insects that can disturb your peaceful sleep in the open.

Other hammock tents have bug nets which help to ensure that pests also do not disturb you at night.

Ashram Life

Recently, as some of you may know, I’ve been staying at an ashram in southern India. Kerala to be exact. And while I had my Julia Roberts fantasy of eating, praying and loving going into the experience- I didn’t quite come out of it with enlightenment (or a crazy Texan friend that was way too up in my business).

Despite these setbacks, I did come out of it with some awesome traditional Keralan recipes and increased flexibility (four hours of yoga a day does have some benefits, and being able to bend in weird positions is one of them).

The rules of the ashram were pretty intense (read: get your ass out of bed at 5:30am every morning) and the diet certainly matched this strict and regimented atmosphere. I’m talking no alcohol (fine), no drugs (that’s legit), only vegetarian food (no harm there), and no garlic or onions (wait *record stops* WTF?!).

Yup, no garlic. No onions. What else is there to eat you may ask? I don’t know. But I was not happy about it. According to some yogic principles of belief, onions and garlic fire up your system too much, whereas a yogi lifestyle should be more calm and relaxed. I think I would have been more relaxed had I not had to praise elephant and monkey gods every evening, but whatevs. I rolled with it.

What I found really interesting was the incorporation of coconuts into literally everything. Coconut chutney, coconut curry, coconut oil (amazing for your hair by the way), coconut juice, coconut gumbo (just kidding), and of course- coconuts! As a (coco)nut myself, I was loving it.

Me being very happy about this coconut

Keralan food is certainly delicious and the coconut is just one example of its unique flavor. Another traditional dish is the dosa, which is kind of like a crepe that you eat with other curries and vegetables. Idlis are spongy rice cake/dumpling things, and they’re also pretty good. We often had pineapple curry, red rice, and cabbage salad- though I’m not sure if that’s cheap ashram food or staples in Kerala- anyone any ideas?

Keralan Thali, served on banana leaf

All in all it was a nice experience. Different, but nice. I entered the ashram very tense, very hard and very angry from dealing with all that India is, and I left surprisingly refreshed, with a new attitude and reinvigorated for the last leg of my trip. Yes I could have woken up more for morning meditation, or learned the Sanskrit prayers, but I did what I could. And so I give myself an A for effort.

And a B for Biryani.


Kitchen Visit: Baruch Rock Homebrewer

Remember that time I spent New Years Eve rocking out in the middle of nowhere Connecticut at a Jewish food conference? Oh yeah., that happened. Since 2010, I’ve been attending the annual Hazon Food Conference, and this year was no different than the rest- simply incredible. One of the many sessions I was able to attend was about making beer at home. And while I’m still working up the courage to make my home-brew dreams a reality, for now I thought I would share this interview with Baruch Rock, who taught a session on home-brewing during the conference.

Baruch Rock, Hazon Food Conference, Homebrewing, Beer Making Interview

How did you get into brewing beer?

When I was sixteen, I was a member of 6 person team who spent five weeks with the student conservation association in Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. At the end of our stay, as we were preparing to leave the wilderness, I recall our team leader talking to a ranger about some home-brews that he had left for the ranger in the fridge at the station. Curious, I inquired as to what that meant, and that’s how I learned about the freedom to create tasty beverages in one’s home was a possibility. Alcohol had nothing to do with it, the freedom of my wilderness experience was palpable and this seemed like another way to express the identity I was forging for myself at that time in my life.    

What’s the best beer you ever tasted?

For me, taste is more than just what the sensory areas of my tongue and the interpretive centers in my brain tell. Taste derives from the wholeness of any beer, where were the ingredients sourced? Are they local? Are they organic? For me, taste is also about associations, memories, experiences, surrounding the beer experience. I say this humbly, but the best beer I ever tasted was an all-organic porter that a friend and I brewed up in his kitchen in Alfred, New York when I was a Sophomore in college. It was delicious, refreshing, everything I knew home-brewing could be. 

What are some tips you would give to other home brewers?

As Charlie Pappazan teaches in his home-brewing guide: “Relax, don’t worry- have a home-brew.” This advice is essential, have fun while you are brewing and brew with friends. I would also say, be clean, be clean, be clean- make sure your brewing materials are properly sanitized, it is time consuming, but worth it! 

Top beer destinations?

My house on Shabbat!!! Blue Mountain Brewery in Virginia, Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico, California and Brooklyn Brewery in New York. ~Thank you Baruch for sharing your wisdom with us and letting us get a glimpse into the life of a home-brewer. Baruch’s message regarding taste is so beautiful, and a great reminder to all of us when indulging in the small pleasures of life! Enjoy, y’all!

Tzfat Recap

As mentioned earlier this week, I had a ridiculously wonderful time exploring the ancient city of Tzfat and northern Israel. Below is a picture diary, and a glimpse into my week in the mystical Tzfat. Enjoy!


Part of a treasure hunt activity- I got pretty into it

3 Cheese Lachooch- A Yemenite “Crepe”


Tzfat Cheese- the Kadosh family has been making this cheese in Tzfat for SEVEN generations: that’s a lot of cheese!


Street Art all over the city

The Lachooch Man at Work

The Old City of Tzfat is all cobblestones- reminded me of Jerusalem, actually!


The organization I volunteered with (Livnot) rebuilds much of the city of Tzfat. Buildings with this emblem on them say that Livnot volunteers helped to restore it.

The best Sabich in Tzfat- no question. These guys will hook it up.

Cheese tasting at a goat farm in Rosh Pina- a small village in the north, close to Tzfat


This is actually in Neve Tzedek- Tel Aviv- but it needed to be included 

Zion National Park + Peanut Butter & Co

Heyo Bellpeppers!

Given the sad state of affairs today (read: the government not getting its act together and shutting down (?!?)) I wanted to share some love from my camping trip this past weekend at Zion National Park. Considering national park employees are not going into work today, I’d say I had pretty good timing.


I’m not going to get into the ridiculousness of this situation right now, but rather share some of the beauty that I found in Utah. Zion, the Hebrew word for redemption, is exactly that. In Jewish mysticism, Zion is interpreted as the spiritual point at which reality emerges.

And since I’m reading this book and just watched this movie– I’d say the gigantic sandstone cliffs parted by rough waters forming the largest slot canyon in the world were certainly a good dose of reality in the most natural form.

I was lucky enough to go to Zion with three wonderful women from my fellowship, one of whom used to work at the park and was able to give us the local insider information- like where to find a secluded swimming hole in the dry heat of Utah.

The weekend at Zion was simply incredible. And as I hiked around, first to Angel’s Landing- a steep 1400 ft. cliff that juts into the middle of the canyon and as the park described “unsuitable for those fearful of heights“, and then through the Narrows, I felt a sense of serenity that was missing for a long time. Its just incredible how being in the vastness of nature can make you feel so small.

Hiking Makes You Hungry

When thinking about what to eat on this glorious trip, I admit, I had little input. One thing I did know was that of a recent package I received from Peanut Butter & Co, I would have to bring along a jar of peanut bar. I decided on Mighty Maple, and so glad I did.

We ended up finishing the entire jar in the first day by adding it to our morning oatmeal, making copious amounts of PB&J sandwiches, and just straight up eating it out of the jar. I met one of PB+Co’s reps at the Blog Her Food Conference this past summer and was so happy when they reached out to me about trying some of their vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO peanut butter.

Still Waking Up

While PB was HUGE when I was living in Nepal, I haven’t really eaten much of it in the past year. Let’s face it, Israeli’s love Bamba, but they don’t love Peanut Butter. It’s one of those paradoxes that we may never solve.

In any case, the peanut butter was a huge success and definitely a new staple for any camping trips. If you find yourself going on a trip, I would definitely suggest bringing along a jar of one these really delicious jars of peanut butter. Then again, that trip may have to wait awhile…

Guest Post: Best Mexican Food in LA

Today’s guest post I’ll admit is long overdue- Virginia emailed me this summer about sharing the best spots in LA, and I’m so happy to finally share this post. While I’m not living in LA anymore, these Mexican spots might be worth the drive! To be fair, I should probably write the best Mexican spots in San Diego too! Take it away Virginia.

Best Mexican Food In L.A

When you are craving spicy salsa and flavor-packed food, but can’t afford to head south of the border, just turn your car in the direction of L.A. The options for tantalizing Mexican food are endless, with a delicious menu to tempt you seemingly on every corner.

No matter what you are looking for, with the amount of restaurants sporting authentic Mexican cuisine in the greater L.A. area, you will, in no way, be disappointed. These restaurants are some of the best-of-the-best, satisfying customers– one enchilada at a time. Take a look, but don’t think too hard—no matter which one you choose, the food will definitely hit the spot:

1) Guelaguetza

Located in Koreatown on Olympic Boulevard, this restaurant might seem like it has itself confused, but trust us—the food is anything but confusing. They are known for their delicious tortillas and one-of-a-kind asiento spread. To keep things happening and hip, live music tends to play nightly; however, Thursday nights are reserved for classic Mexican films– the entertainment abounds.

2) La Casita Mexicana

The food here is off the charts, and the chefs who work behind the scenes are no different. Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are famous for their loaded enchiladas, are unlike anything you have had before.

Loteria LA

3) Loteria Grill

The food here starts at breakfast and doesn’t stop until customers are satisfied after clearing away the dinner plates. At Loteria Grill, boring is not an option. Fortunately, the restaurant has more than one location: Studio City, Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Westlake Village, so there is no excuse to avoid this place if you are looking for truly authentic Mexican dishes.

4) Babita

From the outside, Babita may look unassuming, but after your first bite, you’ll think twice! The chef and owner, Robert Berrelleza, has truly perfected his food and his love for cooking spills over into his restaurant.

5) Tacos Ensenada

The backdrop to this restaurant is the San Gabriel Mountains. The soups will make you ask for more, but the true crowning glory? Why, the fish tacos, of course! For authentic fish tacos that make you think of white beaches along the Mexican Riviera, look no further. The fish is fresh and the cabbage slaw is a perfect balance of tang. Order up!

6) El Huarache Azteca

Customers from all around come here for, what else, the huaraches! When you perfect something this good, it’s only natural to name your restaurant after it.

7) Coni’Seafood

Sometimes all you want is some nice, flavorful seafood. Well, look no further! Chef Sergio Penuelas delights in serving up plate-after-plate of amazing bites from the sea.

8) Yuca’s

The carne asada here is so delicious that your mouth will water after every bite– not to mention the tamales, which will find you with an instant craving the first time you try one. At Yuca’s, customers feel like family. It’s no wonder people keep coming back for more.

9) La Taquiza

No matter what you order at La Taquiza, the food is sure to please. Everything is created to taste authentic, full of flavor and spices, and the chefs definitely know what they’re doing.

10) Birrieria Apatzingan

Found in the San Fernando Boulevard, on Laurel Canyon Drive, you’ll soon learn that the meal of choice here is the goat stew. Some customers, first-timers of course, are usually squeamish about the idea, but almost everyone is soon smitten by this unique combination of flavors.

From the heart of L.A. to the San Gabriel Mountains, your quest for authentic Mexican food should start and end here. Get out there—and don’t stop till you’ve tried everything on the menu!


Virginia Cunningham is a writer for Northwest, a mother and yoga enthusiast in Los Angeles. After living in L.A. for quite some time, she’s tasted most of what the great city has to offer, especially when it comes to Mexican food.


There you have it! Has anyone tried any of these Mexican restaurants? Is there somewhere we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

California Road Trip

It’s good to be back on the blog today! In a week I’ll be moving across the country from sunny San Diego to the front of Boston. I’m really excited to make the move, but I’ll admit it’s definitely bittersweet. I’ve had a beautiful community of genuine, interesting and motivated people for the past 15 months. Weekly potlucks, a shared community garden, interesting events and lectures, and the freedom to create meaningful work and projects. I’ll definitely miss it.

As I say goodbye to California (for now) I decided the proper way to celebrate would be a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. Here are some of the photos from our stops along the way- enjoy!

venice, california, beach, sunset
venice, california, sunset
sail boat, pacific ocean
El Capitan, California
El Capitan, California
Big Sur, California
Big Sur, California
Nepenthe, Big Sur, California
McWay Falls, California, Big Sur
Venice, California
Stops: Laguna Beach / Los Angeles / Venice Beach / Santa Monica Pier / El Capitan State Beach / Solvang / Big Sur / Limekiln State Park / Pfieffer State Park / McWay Falls / Nepenthe / San Francisco

Thank you to everyone who entered the To Go Ware giveaway! I’ll be posting another special giveaway with one of my favorite Bay Area artists in the next week so stay tuned! Thank you, Emily, for sharing your farro and brussels sprouts salad while I was away, and happy 2019 everyone!!

Spring Cleanse and Thirst Juice Co.

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to go check out Thirst Juice Co. a juice shop located right in Downtown Crossing in Boston. You all know how much I love green juices, and since moving from San Diego to Boston, I was starting to lose hope on what the green living scene here was.

I must say, the transition between California and Massachusetts has been tough. I moved in the dead of winter, and pretty much hibernated for three months. I didn’t venture out, I stayed indoors, ate terribly, didn’t move my body and treated myself so poorly. I remember when I lived in Philly I would get SAD, but never to this extent. The shock of the move really affected my body and as soon as the large piles of snow melted, the rain had dissipated and the sun decided to peak through – I was out.

I moved to a lovely neighborhood in Boston called Jamaica Plain, where I’m minutes walk to a yoga studio, plenty of cafes to write in, and an organic grocery store that has kombucha on tap. No joke.

I found out about Thirst Juice Co. from a friend of mine and knew I wanted to learn more about it. They have amazing juices like the BuddahBeet, Field of Greens and Kale-idoscope. Not only do they have great names, but these made to order juices are super fresh and ultra good for you.

Most juices contain several POUNDS of fruits and vegetables, so even if the rest of your day is crap, you at least know you got an abundance of greens in your system doing their magic.

What I love most about Thirst (aside from their friendly and knowledgable staff, beautiful and understated decor) is their Açaí bowls. If you have no idea what that is – I feel you. Let me explain:

Açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a berry native to Brazil. It’s rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats and fiber. Açaí berries grow in clusters on tall palm trees native to the Amazon rainforest, and ancient Amazonian tribes would use these berries both medicinally and as food. Açaí berries have twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and also contain a broad range of vitamins and minerals and a naturally low sugar content.

Açaí bowls were all the rage in Encinitas (go figure) but I never actually ordered an Açaí bowl while living there. At Thirst, I ordered the Coconut Açaí bowl and let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS. Go there now, tell them I sent you, and order that thing. It’s a game changer.

Co-owners Chris and Heather started Thirst Juice Co. after careers working as corporate lawyers, feeling burnt out and wanting to try something new. While there may be a juice bar at every corner in Manhattan, Boston has been slow in keeping up with the trend, with only a handful of juice bars in the city. Heather and Chris are both multiple-time marathon runners (18 between them!) and want to spread the message on good clean eating.

I spoke to Heather about the fad of juice cleanses, mostly because I really want to try a juice cleanse myself. However, most people don’t realize that juice cleansing is more of a fast. And fasting should only be done if there is something seriously wrong with your system that you need a complete re-start. Not something you need to do once a month.

I also had the chance to take a wheatgrass shot (and chase it with an orange) which was delicious. Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll which is super detoxifying and rids your body of free radicals. It’s a great source of natural energy, and one ounce of wheatgrass has the some of the same micronutrients as five POUNDS of spinach. Wheatgrass is best taken in the morning on an empty stomach, but I think if you’ve never tried wheatgrass, give it a go anytime.

There you have it folks, I’ll be sharing one of Thirst’s Green Smoothie recipes later this week. If you’re in Boston, go check out Thirst Juice Co. and tell them Local Belle sent you! Have a beautiful day people!