Apres Camping—What worked, what didn’t

Haven’t been camping for 10 years.  Threw ourselves back in with a vengeance, buying a used pop up tent camper and spending four days in Crater Lake National Park.  This is what we learned.

What Worked:

  1. DRY ICE!  Put this in your cooler if you’re going to be bringing any perishables along for meals, it rocks.  We left Friday, came back on Monday, and the stuff in the big cooler was still frozen.
  2. FRENCH PRESS and COFFEE THERMOSES:  Simple to use, easy to clean, makes great, strong coffee which you will need in the morning.  You’ll want the thermos because coffee gets cold quick in a press.  Unless you are nifty and have a cozy for it.  Which I’m working on.
  3. AIR BEDS:  You may consider this for wimps, in which case, phooey to you.  I have osteoarthritis in my knees, hips, and back and NEED the extra cushioning.  We did try the first night on the camper’s regular mattress and hubby and I both agreed, air bed.
  4. CAST IRON PANS:  These things are brilliant.  They work great over a campfire or over your Coleman propane stove.  Just don’t try to cook scrambled eggs in them, it’s not pretty.  Fried, only, trust me.

What Didn’t Work:

  1. NOT BRINGING A SERVING PLATTER of any kind.  Got awkward when cooking food for six over a campfire and didn’t have anything to put stuff on when it was done.  Jelly roll pans will be added to the camper supplies.
  2. NO BLACK PEPPER to season the food.  The pepper grinder I bought was broken and the store nearby was out of their Morton salt and pepper sets.  Got not a little grief from certain members of our party about no pepper.  It’s the little things, people.  (Should have made them powder it up with the hammer in hindsight.)
  3. NO TONGS for grilling over the campfire.  Hubby told me not to pack them, then asked where they were the second night.  We needed them the next night, too.

Mind you, this is not the hardcore backpack/camping where you carry everything on your back.  This is semi-luxurious camping with a tent camper.  Which is the way I like it.  I’ve done the sleeping-bag-on-the-tent floor camping as a kid and in my 20s.  I’m not ashamed to admit I’m not 20 anymore.

Our camping supplies were:

  • enamel-ware dishes and stock pot
  • camping pots and pans (the kind that all fit inside each other)
  • cast iron grill pan and one large and one small frying pan
  • aluminum foil for cooking food
  • silverware for 12 sourced from the thrift store
  • assorted cooking utensils also sourced from the thrift store
  • french press coffee pot, ground coffee, tea, and a water kettle
  • popcorn stove top popper
  • knife set and block (thrift store score)
  • two dish washing pans and a collapsing dish drainer
  • dish soap and hand soap
  • wash cloths, pot holders, hand towels
  • bag of rags for accidents, spills, clean up, etc. (came in very handy)
  • campfire forks (the extending kind are the best)
  • camp chairs
  • Coleman stove and lanterns, plenty of little propane tanks
  • Two 5 gallon jugs for water
  • Cutting board and colander
  • camp stove toaster (it really works)
  • plastic bags for trash and recyclables to bring back
  • whisk broom and dust pan
  • misc. camping supplies:  waterproof matches, clips, rope, etc.
  • tents for the kids to sleep in, sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
  • linens for the camper beds, blankets, pillows
  • food—I try to include fun camping food like brats or hot dogs that the kids can cook themselves over the fire with forks, marshmallows, popcorn, and if you can, makings for s’mores
  • a badminton set or other portable sportsing games for free time

We had a great time and hopefully made some great memories for the kids.  And we’re already planning our next trip!  One or two more trips and we should have a system set up where we just load a few things in the camper, pack the food, and go!

(The last morning at the campsite.  Morning hair is scary.)

5/19/2013 - Video


Oh! Oh! I love this!



Someone requested a post of all of the current Strong Female Characters, so here you go.

prints are available here.

this is cool.

Thank goodness they put one of Sigourney Weaver’s characters up there, because she’s the strongest woman ALIVE.

Mother’s Day is better than my birthday…

I got spoiled today.  Frank and the kids took me to the garden center and let me pick out what I wanted for Mother’s Day—there were two orchids on clearance, that was bloomed out and one with the flower stem broken off.  I totally scored and got not one but two orchids, which I’ve always wanted, and on the cheap!  Plus also they had hanging baskets on a “Mother’s Day special”, so I got two of those! 

Came home and put my feet up and Annora made me chamomile tea and served me a chocolate strawberry with a darling note.  It made my day.  Briana tied a friendship bracelet around my wrist and Nathaniel wrote me a poem.

Then Annora helped me plant perennial violas, a barrenwort and another color of NW native bleeding heart (called Bacchanal, for all love) in the shady flower bed next to the house. 

Frank smoked baby back ribs for dinner complete with a gluten free angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for desert.  The ribs were better than any we’ve ever had, cooked ourselves or in a restaurant.  Divine.  At dinner I received a wrapped gift and cards (that made me tear up).  Frank found a copper wind spinner on sale last year and bought it for me for mother’s day.  The kids actually kept the surprise for that long!  It’s beautiful, I love it.

For all the mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers that have I have loved and have inspired me, those still with us and those who’ve had to leave us, I honor you for your courage, strength, wisdom, love, and laughter.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Oregon Beach Clean Up

What I learned at the SOLVE sponsored beach clean up yesterday was this:

Stands of driftwood *look* clean and scenic


but as soon as you start sifting through it you find




on what *looks* like a clean beach.  Plastic never dies.

The Birds & The Ladybugs

So, we got a bag of 1,300 ladybugs (which sounds like a 10,000 Maniacs cover band) and let them loose in the rose bed last night.  The kids have been enjoying watching them this morning and quickly realized why some were clinging to each other.  Ever since we had “the talk” they’re continually surprised that other species have sex, too.  You should have seen N’s face yesterday when he asked how cats get pregnant and I told him, (the same way people do). “But how does the sperm get in the mommy cat?”  “Male cats have penises, too, dear.  All mammals make babies this way.”  His mind = blown.

I feel like in some ways it’s the end of an age of innocence, but in another way, it’s an enlarging of their world, they’re beginning to make broader connections and fully realizing things that they’ve intuited to some degree but never truly understood till now. 

Like, we also had the conversation that mom and dad are Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy and N asks the other day, “Do parents use Santa Claus as leverage to get kids to behave?”  He’s very smart.

I feel like their childhood is slowly peeling away from them, not unlike like a pupae shedding it’s skin into the next stage of growth.  I feel like I’m growing and stretching with them, as I navigate new ways to relate to them with less euphemisms, beating around the bush, pretending (about the Easter Bunny, etc.), and no longer saying, “we’ll save that conversation until you’re older.”  They’re older, now.  This is new territory for me and them, but I feel ready and eager to put on a pith helmet and explore!

B asked, so we looked up, “Why are ladybugs called ladybugs?” and got an interesting answer:

"In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying the crops, so the Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs "The Beetles of Our Lady", and they eventually became known as "Lady Beetles"! The red wings represented the Virgin’s cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. They didn’t differentiate between males and females."  —Answer.com

3/19/2013 - Photo

Homemade Vanilla Extract! 
To the left is a little less than a quarter pound of vanilla beans.  To the right is five vanilla beans, cut in half lengthwise and covered with eight ounces of 100 proof vodka.  In eight weeks, I’ll have a whole vup of my very own vanilla extract.  The beans were bought on amazon.com, if you want to try this yourself.  For some reason, I’m inordinately excited over this.

Homemade Vanilla Extract! 

To the left is a little less than a quarter pound of vanilla beans.  To the right is five vanilla beans, cut in half lengthwise and covered with eight ounces of 100 proof vodka.  In eight weeks, I’ll have a whole vup of my very own vanilla extract.  The beans were bought on amazon.com, if you want to try this yourself.  For some reason, I’m inordinately excited over this.

3/18/2013 - Video

In Loving Memory, by Briana.

I loved my dog, Jefe Boy.  He was an awesome dog.  I really miss my dog “Wookie”.  We called him “Wookie” because when he spoke he sounded like Chewbaca from Star Wars.  He was a great dog.  I loved giving him walks and playing tug of war.  He loved to play with Nathaniel, Annora, and me.  When my dad and siblings and I would rough-house Jefe would go crazy—he would bark! and try to jump on the furniture.

On movie violence and Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

Listened to Quentin Tarantino’s interview with Terri Gross on “Fresh Air” about his new “Django Unchained” movie and was fascinated by his comments on the decisions of what kind and how much violence to keep or cut from his new movie in the editing room, and about actual violence vs. artificial violence.

I don’t like violent films, generally, especially gratuitous violence—for it’s own sake, not advancing or serving the plot or the story.  It hurts my heart to see the worst humanity can do to itself, even in fictional form.  I’ve only seen a handful of Tarantino’s films, and while I recognize his virtuosity and how good and clever his storytelling is, the violence was always off-putting.

Today, he explained two things that have allowed me to understand him and his work so much more clearly.  One, that he judged how much of the footage they shot of the violence of slavery to use by the reaction of the focus groups.  And had to scale it back significantly, or the audience was too traumatized to engage with the rest of the movie.  His inclusion and exclusion of scenes was to serve the story.  I can deeply appreciate that, for some reason.

Second, he cannot bear actual violence in movies.  The actual killing or harming of animals in a movie, for instance—killing chickens, jerking horses with ropes to make them fall, or terrorizing animals in order to get them to perform a certain way on film.  He makes a clear distinction between actual violence and simulated violence.  What he does is all artifice, and his craft is to make it feel real in the movie.  Actual violence is abhorrent to him.

I still may not be able or willing to watch his new movie Django Unchained, I haven’t decided yet, but I have a much higher degree of respect for the man and his work, and a much better understanding of where he is coming from.  And to know that no animals were harmed during the filming of his movies, which is no small thing.

Gratitude Day 18

I’m grateful that I currently live in a peaceful city and that I don’t live in Gaza.