small changes

table
desk
bucket
dogstretch

for the growing girl. N and I spruced up her room last week. Nothing drastic, just small changes. Since it was so tidy in there this morning, I thought I'd share.

I got the little side table for a couple bucks at a thrift store and she picked the color- sweet pea pink. She really needed something by her bed to keep her class of water and a lamp. This entire room is thrifted or second-hand, even the bedding. And so frilly, happy, girlie! The little desk and vanity chair are from Good Ju Ju. Local friends, go there- it's really fun. The vanity mirror was my great-aunt's freshened up with the same pink.

I included the photo of the stretching pup because it gives you a good idea of how small her room really is. That rug is 5 x 7 feet. We have to be diligent about cleaning up toys in there or it becomes overwhelming very quickly. Actually, most of her toys moved out which instantly made her room look so much more grown up. She loves it, and that's all I wanted.

trying my best

gifts
starting a tiny quilt

I'm single-handedly trying to keep economy in the pooper. Just kidding. Sort of. I've started making my handmade gifts. I keep hearing on NPR about how spending is up a bit and consumer confidence is rising, blah blah blah, but I don't get it. I'm certainly no economist, but isn't that how we got into this mess to begin with? All the overspending? I want my friends who have lost their jobs to find great new ones, and I'd love things to improve for my own small business. But as a simple (also cheap) girl in a very consumer world, I'm just going to keep doing my thang this holiday season and cross my fingers for the economy.

The biggest blessings are not things. No one can argue with that. My kids get three gifts each year- one from Santa, a purchased one from us, and one Mommy-made gift. I have a great idea for N's handmade present. And J says he just wants me to make him some warm jammies. Sweetie pie. With all the toys from cousins and grandparents they always get MORE than enough.

We've started thinking about simple family activities for our advent calendar. N has requested making gingerbread men because she says "gingerbread tastes sooo good in the winter." She's right. And I want to make some more lanterns around the solstice. On the 5th we'll go get our tree from here. We got a cedar last year, and although it's not the most traditional species, it was just fine for us. We really had fun with it last time.

It's our year to stay here at home this Christmas. I look forward to a slow and easy holiday season, full of love and good food with friends and family and enjoying simple pleasures. And I am wishing the same for you too, my friends.

some thoughts on camping

getting dark
tent
happy old dog
hammock
night sky
ahhhhh

Good morning! We are back from our camping trip, and everything is washed and put away. My son says no one in the world loves camping as much as he does. This may be true. He took his first camping trip when he was four months old. It is our vacation of choice, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on camping today.

I think if you're not a camper, you're just not. You can't force it. You have to be okay with the possibility of ticks and spiders galore and the occasional snake. For those of us who love to camp, there is just nothing like it. Are you a camper? Would you like to find out?

First, I think you have to consider to what level of "roughing it" you're willing to go. We were never backpackers, but my husband and I have always camped. We used to rough it a lot more- a little tent, a couple of sleeping bags, a lantern and the camp stove. That was plenty. But two children later, we pack up tons of gear. And we're fine with that. We have a big Coleman three room tent.

Tip #1: Invest in a quality tent and take care of it. We made it through a couple of decent thunderstorms this time with very minimal leakage.

We take air mattresses (Tip #2: Air mattresses make all the difference) with real sheets, a canopy for over the table (so in the rain we can eat and play cards), a three burner propane camp stove, a camp box filled with kitchen necessities, the list goes on and on. and on.

Tip #3: If you're going to camp a lot- keep your gear packed up. We have several Rubbermaid tubs we keep it in. After the trip we clean, sort, repack and stack it all in the basement in the tubs. These are what we call our camp boxes.

Tip #4: Be prepared. Make a list and do all your thinking at home, so you don't have to worry while you're there. You can click HERE to download a pdf of our list for ideas. Our camp boxes are where we keep our dishes, cooking pots, silverware and knives, cups, tea towels, dish scrubbers, cutting board, matches, camp hammock, plastic tablecloth, clothesline, etc. You'll have to make that list based on your preferences. And of course this list doesn't include personal clothing items.

Another thing to think about is where you want to camp. Water is a must for us. We love rivers and streams, but a lake will do, and we swim a lot. Showers are another must. We can skip a day or two, but then we crave a good shower. We usually camp in state, national, or corp of engineer parks. You can find the whole gamut of places out there from hike-in sites to private campgrounds with pools- just do a little research.

Tip #5: Let the kids pack some toys- buckets and shovels, a few art supplies, books, and maybe a few little tent toys- but not too many. They will go from whining that they're bored, to digging in dirt and building elaborate caterpillar castles in a day or two. It's a most important transformation- and my favorite.

Tip #6: Eat healthy while you're there. Your stomach will thank you.

Tip #7: But take treats. We always take those tiny boxes of sugary cereal and s'more fixings. To me special treats like that make for good memories.

Tip #8: Clean up and pack up your food really well at night. Animals can be aggressive (and smart!) when it comes to finding a snack.

Tip #9: Take Benadryl (adult and kid) with you. You may not need it, but it's there just in case someone has a nasty reaction to something (bug, sting, food, etc.) and you need a little time to get into town for medical treatment.

Tip #10: Don't sacrifice your principles for the sake of convenience. We wash our dishes and save our recyclables. It's a pain, but so worth it.

Tip #11: Relax. Don't plan too much. For us the best part of camping is the absolute absence of schedule. Eat when you're hungry, play when you're bored, nap when you're tired, stay up late and watch for shooting stars, wake up early and fish if you want.

Ahhhhh... I hope you found these tips helpful. Let me know If you want to borrow anything to give it a go. ; ) Happy Camping!

yikes, blueberries.

blueberry
blueberries
her best one

You all know how I feel about the local food. I've been wanting to pick blueberries for years, and I've heard a lot about this place. So this morning I checked the picking report, woke the kids up early (8:20, people. I love my late-sleepin' babies.) and we headed out. Now don't get me wrong. The farm is large and lovely and there's a lot for the kids to do. But oh man. It was crowded. I mean CROWDED. Crowded at 9:30 am. Crowded like 2 bus loads of children and maybe 100 cars. Crowded like if you find a bush with lots of ripe berries, keep your mouth shut, your head down, and pick quickly.

More than once I saw people giving each other the stink eye for honing in on their bush. I suppose I'm just used to the quaint goodness of my favorite strawberry patch, peach and apple orchards. This was a crazy mad house. mad farm. You get the picture. Anyway, my kids didn't find it very enjoyable, but it was a long drive so we toughed it out and filled a few buckets.

And on the very bright side, we're looking forward to blueberry muffins, cobbler and maybe even blueberry ice cream!