Category Archives: growth

Wet camping trip? Try dutch ovens and lemon squares!

Camping is becoming a ritual for our family (now that we can put the kid to work!), and this year we battled Mother Nature to prove it.

Everyone always kids in a totally serious way that summer doesn’t start around here until July 5th, but at my brilliant suggestion we bit the bullet and went camping anyway.

Just to give you an idea of the weather we faced, here’s a headline I read when we got back: “Summer squall downs trees, knocks out power around region.”

And this: Seattle’s total rainfall for June so far is 2.78 inches through 5 p.m. Saturday – which makes it the eighth wettest June on record with still a week to go.

So, we left in a downpour and hoped the worst had passed through. Foolish, yes. Because where we headed ended up with .63″ of rain Friday, .3″ Saturday, and then voila! on Sunday, the SUN came out for us to pack and get the hell outta there before we all grew mold in our private areas.

Our friends fed us martinis and abandoned us left early, halfway through the weekend, which just goes to show it’s all relative because in Juneau, Alaska, yours truly was the prissy camping princess.

It helps that the Hubs is true Alaskan and can tie up tarps at 100 yards. We also ate well and constantly. Here’s his set-up. He’s #1 on the local hunters’ most-wanted camp cooks list…
That was our entertainment, sitting under tarps and watching the Hubs make stew, roasted chicken and braised short ribs.
In case you think I did nothing but growl…
(Ok, probably a fair amount of growling was heard while I sat by our additional, illegal campfire because I was scared if I went in the tent I’d never come out!)
I’ll have you know that I pre-measured ingredients to try to make lemon squares, baked in a Dutch oven. We had nothing else to do, so we were zesting, juicing, stirring, patting, and baking. Granted, I forgot the powdered sugar, but it tasted pretty decent in all our sogginess. Yes, life gave us lemons and we made lemon squares!We couldn’t keep covered enough out there. But, the surprise Jiffy Pop was a huge hit and went pretty well with wine in a box.Like I said, the sun did come out Sunday, thank goodness, so we kept our sanity packed easily and hung stuff out to dry at home.

Ok, Mother Nature, now that you waterboarded us from the sky we’ve paid our dues, all the rest of the summer camping weather will be splendid, right?!

A camping princess can dream, can’t she?


Do you have any tips for camping in wetness?? Would your family stay or pack back up?

The Shiny Coat Series: Nourishment

It’s definitely spring. I even came across a cwute widdle Bambi staring at me up close during a run the other day. Yes, if any of us look around Bainbridge Island right now, we will see young offspring, usually with a parent, usually getting fed (or demanding it loudly, at least).

I know it’s Let the dog in! but no one in this household can have any puppies, or babies for that matter (And please don’t remind me how close it’s getting for the Kid! I am already way down the freak-out plank on that issue!), so we have to look outside to the feathered variety.

I’ve noticed lots of baby birds, juveniles, really, being nourished. These downy woodpeckers were one set:

And there were those red house finches the other day who were too quick for me… I did snap these black-capped chickadees hanging out. Their cute little heads were too fast for me to get a shot of the feeding, though.
If you can take the time to notice the feedings, they provide a good reminder of what we should all be doing, nourishing ourselves.

It’s easy to forget when you are stressed or under pressure (whether a real, tangible threat or one of those what-if‘s I’m so good at creating). But it’s exactly those times, when you’re at the end of your branch rope, that you would benefit the most from some form of healthy nourishment.Or when you’re just plain unhappy about a turn of events beyond your control.Taking care of your self (body, mind and spirit), feeding your self, physically and emotionally, having compassion for your self, it’s all easier said than done. Believe me, I know. I’m more of a go-directly-from-A-to-B-cut-the-crap-get-a-move-on-be-efficient type.

If you have a child, you can probably easily lavish praise and love on that small soul. It comes naturally, but for some reason we forget that inside us is also a little soul that needs nourishment.

But if you can lower the volume of the noise in your head for just awhile, that alone can be soothing to your soul, whether it’s talking a quiet walk, gazing out a window, meditating, shooting wildlife pictures

Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements wrote “your whole mind is a fog which the Toltecs called a mitote. Your mind is a dream where a thousand people talk at the same time, and nobody understands each other.” Absolutely.

Mine like to cuss, swear and pick-pick-pick. It’s a madhouse in my head! Sometimes it’s loud and obvious, and sometimes it’s a barely perceptible, teeny tiny, sneakier-than-hell voice.

Either way, it feels good to shut them all up, even if they keep returning, uninvited, and do something that feels good, inside and out.

So take a look outside, see the reminders Mother Nature offers, and go nurture yourself! The good vibe you create in yourself will spread to everyone around you, too!

Relationship Advice from Guru John Gottman

Last week I tasered and dragged the Hubs to a lecture by renowned relationship researcher John Gottman. Yes, you read that right. The Hubs went to a talk on relationships. Better stock up on food and water, cuz the Supervolcano can’t be far behind. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

As we walked up the streets of downtown Seattle, I spotted another couple heading the same direction and guessed we were all going to the same place. When the woman left her guy in the dust by crossing on yellow, and then impatiently waited across the street, the Hubs agreed with me. We’re smart only that way.

After reviewing the bad and irrational habits of couples which I personally never do, Gottman discussed the Falling in Love Cocktail, which is how we all got in this mess consists of the following chemicals: DHEA, Oxytocin, Pheromones, Estrogen, Testosterone, PEA, Serotonin, Dopamine, Progesterone, Prolactin, and Vasopressin plus a shot of Grey Goose, shaken, not stirred.


During the “honeymoon phase,” all these chemicals, which thankfully can only get triggered by a few people‘s delicious look/scent/taste, will suspend our sense of fear and impair our judgment. No shit! In fact, a Swiss scientist found that when sprayed with oxytocin up their nose, more people agreed to fund a shifty Swiss dude’s investment scheme than people who were squirted with plain saline. So you should totally not date a financier.

It’s only after the chemicals wear off and we’ve possibly already been to the alter that we sober up that our judgment resurfaces and trust can begun to be built. Gottman defines trust in a broad way as behavior that answers affirmatively to the question “Are you there for me?” And that feeling, that your partner is there for you or not there for you, is created in small moments every day, every week, by listening and sharing openly. I You apparently cannot order it up off the menu.

He truly had a ton of information and a short time to convey it. While Gottman compiled lists of what you should and shouldn’t do, he didn’t really sink into that underbelly of people possibly like me who know what they should do, who know it would benefit the relationship, and yet still don’t do it.

Like how a person who is midway through a totally voluntary, food detox for rational, health reasons (a blog post on that later), walks into a lecture area, smells foreign spices and sees something tasty looking in a steamed wrapper being handed to her by celebrity chef Tom Douglas and eats it. Detox. Be. Damned.

Tom said yak was probably okay on a detox after I ate it.

But excluding me that still leaves a large group of rational-behaving people who exist only as a figment of my imagination would benefit from Gottman’s information on the habits of successful couples.

And by the end of the evening, the Hubs and I actually agreed on a second thing: the yak dumplings tasted awesome. Awww.

Wanna Be a Freelance Editor? Meet Jim Thomsen!

Thinking about freelance editing as a career? Curious about how editors got their work up and going? I was, so I thought maybe someone else out there is curious, too. If so, read on!

Here’s my interview with my friend, Jim Thomsen, former Bainbridge Islander and current freelance editor.
1. You had many years of experience working for traditional newspapers. What made you want to become a freelance editor?
One, I don’t know how to do anything else. Two, I don’t WANT to do anything else. Three, even if I were opening to learning something else, I’m afraid it wouldn’t take because I’m stubborn, petulant and have the attention span of a baby ferret. Four, there’s no place for an experienced editor who commands an experienced editor’s salary in the current job market. Five, I know some authors, and found that some were open to some professional help. And six, it’s fun. My laptop is my office. I can work whenever and wherever I want. I can dress for work in madras shorts and a Wang Chung concert T-shirt (yes, I have one).

2. What’s a typical day for you?
I usually start with a little client correspondence and bookkeeping. And Facebooking, which is as much frivolous performance art for me as it is an essential and demonstrably successful part of building my brand. Then I dive into the work itself. I line-edit for sentence structure, spelling, Chicago Manual of Style conformity and consistency, grammar, and usage. I do some fact-checking. I provide a second line of defense on story and structural issues, red-flagging implausibilities and inconsistencies as I see them, and offering solutions. I keep a separate document for each job in which I summarize problem patterns, while also playing up the good stuff.

Volume and speed are the keys to my success, so, during this ramp-up phase of my business, I rarely take a day off or work less than ten hours.

3. Where do you get your clients? What sort of business promotions have you done and what would you recommend for someone starting out?
I know nothing at all about marketing. I acquired my first clients in a few ways. One, I got to know them in person. Continue reading

Another Easter Bunny Bites the Dust

Yes, it was probably about time. The Kid is eight, after all. Eight and half, she’d say.

Yes, I was careless and maybe wanting to be found out. I left the jelly bean bag in the cabinet where she could find it. Where she could put two and two together. Where she could begin that bumpy journey of losing her innocence.

“Mom, why are these same type of jelly beans in the cabinet that were in the eggs I found in the yard?!” she accused this weekend.

I had a choice. I could continue the lie with a oh-no-they’re-different or it-IS-odd-isn’t-it? But I took a few seconds and bit the bullet. I confessed. Those plastic eggs in the yard, the ones we reuse each year hello!, I put them out there.

And guess what? My little sophisticated, singing and dancing, runway modeling, eight-going-on-eighteen daughter cried. A lot.

And then created this gem for me:
I’m a “tairable person.”. .

We’re both still sad here. Her, for the loss of the Easter Bunny and being lied to by her parents.

Me, for her taking yet another, big step into growing up, up and away.

Damn bunny.