• artsy fartsy,  Family Matters,  out out out of the house!,  Slow Living,  the dogs,  travel

    Dinky Creek Camping Trip: Part 2


    I left off yesterday talking about the sunset but actually before that happened I cooked these zucchinis and Payam cooked hamburgers for dinner. Sadly, I didn’t take any other photos of camp-cooking but I wanted to include something about it here because cooking outdoors is one of my favorite parts of camping. I think its because my mom is a great camp cook. I have many fond memories of spaghetti, pancakes, hot dogs and potato salad etc… Sometimes we’d have those tinfoil packs with chunks of sausage, potatoes and carrots roasted over a fire. It was the best.

    I’ve figured out that using a camp stove is the easiest. Fires are fun and great for atmosphere but cooking on them is a little to tricky for me. I love our little camp stove. It runs on tiny propane tanks and it’s just the right size for one pot or kettle of water boiling and one pan of food cooking. It works great.

    Food though…. that was mistake number three. We packed a cooler full of ice, deli meat, hamburgers, sausage and hot dogs and loaded it onto the rack that Payam installed on the back of his truck via the hitch. The problem is: the rack is in back of the truck’s exhaust pipe. It sits about 5 inches away from it in fact. Neither of us thought about what happens when something is directly in line with exhaust. It MELTS!! We literally melted the bottom off of our cooler. I kid you not. When we got to the campsite and started to unload we couldn’t get our ice chest off of the rack because it had melted plastic stuck to the metal rack!

    Amazingly, the inside of the cooler was still intact and still relatively cold. Can you believe it? What luck. Of course this was a bit upsetting to us and we were a bit leery  of eating any of the raw meat that was now no longer frozen. We sniffed it and hemmed and hawed and ended up cooking the hamburgers anyway and guess what? We didn’t get sick! So I guess the inside of a cooler is made of pretty tough stuff if the outside can get melted and the meat inside is still good. Crazy, right?

    I did end up throwing out the sausage and lunch meat (just because it sat too long without ice) but we ate the hotdogs and nobody got food poisoning. Not a risk I usually like to take though so note to anyone installing a rack to the back of your truck: Get an attachment for your exhaust pipe so the exhaust can be routed elsewhere!

    Live and learn. That’s my motto these days.


    The next morning I woke up at the crack of dawn. That’s my usual mode of operation at home too. I’m always up hours before anyone else. I like it that way. I have time with my dogs, I have time to journal and just be quiet with myself. I’ve been such a loner in the mornings for so long, I don’t really like it when other people are up and interrupt my morning time. Funny how that works. I used to complain about it but now I savor it.

    The dogs and I went exploring and found a path to the nearby creek pretty quickly. There weren’t any established paths but we wound our way around bushes and rocks and fallen down trees until we made it to the water. I thought I’d just let the dogs get a drink from the stream but Cody took one slurp and decided he’d rather swim. So he waded into the water even though it was still pretty cold and swimming was not part of my plan at all.  What can you do? Water dogs gonna swim!


    After exploring for a bit I made my way back to camp and brewed myself some coffee. I started a painting and journaled. (By the way, the best kind of coffee while camping is VIA. (not an ad) It’s so easy and it tastes just like regular brewed coffee. You just boil some water, empty your little packet into the cup and tah-dah: instant coffee.


    By the time I was done with my painting and my coffee was nearly gone the rest of the crew started waking up.


    We had breakfast (pancakes of course!) and got ready to venture down to the stream as a family. I had spotted a swimming hole and a water slide earlier and I was so excited to go back show them. We all got dressed in our swimsuits and headed off.


    Woo hoo for swimming in the creek! Before we left, my Dad asked me if we were going to go visit Yosemite. (It’s about 90 miles or an hour away from Dinky Creek) My Dad was very keen that I should at least drive up to the entrance of Yosemite and look down but I told him we really didn’t have any other plans than sitting in the creek. And that is exactly what happened. When you are camping for only two days you should only have plans to relax in the creek! Who needs to jam pack your day with anything else? Not me! It was the most relaxing fun time we’ve had in years. I love a good creek swim/sit.


    And so does Cody, obviously.

    Cody was really weird this trip though. He loves the water but he was really stressed out and kept whining. I don’t know if it was because he wanted us all to be together and when one family member strayed farther than a few feet away, it stressed him out or if something more serious was going on. I thought maybe he had an ear infection but now that we are home he’s back to his usual happy self. I think we just really wore him out and he was grumpy but in a sweet whiney dog kind of way.


    The dogs are VERY attached to me. Mostly because I spend the most time with them. I walk them everyday, I feed them, I give them treats, I play with them. I’m pretty much Queen Bee when it comes to these dogs. So they kind of stuck to my side most of the time. This was actually pretty great though when we let them off leash. We used to worry about them running off but they don’t do that anymore. They might get distracted and run after a squirrel but they quickly come back and stay by my side.


    After a good long swim we headed back to the campsite for lunch. We figured out we didn’t really need lunch meat for lunches. It was just more headache trying to keep it cold. We had hotdogs for lunch because a lot of sun and swimming makes you hungry! Going forward I’m only going to pack food for two big meals a day and the rest can be snacks. Granola bars, nuts and chips are all anybody really wanted anyway. I might as well make life easier for myself!


    After lunch we chilled in the shade and I finished a watercolor of the girls I had started at the creek. I hate my watercolor paintings when I’m doing them. I feel like I have so much to learn and improve on but years later, I always savor them so I’m not stopping doing them even if I don’t think they are very good. There is something about paintings done in places you love, they always bring back the best memories. I’m doing quite a few this summer and I intend to keep them in a tin for future trips down memory lane. I think my kids will really treasure them someday when I’m gone.


    Bug posed with my Little Hoo Goes Camping book. I’ve been planning this shot for a year now. It’s too bad I don’t have little kids anymore but Bug was happy enough to pose for me.


    Then we decided we were ready to go back to the creek for round two!

    I’ll finish that up tomorrow and even include a full body picture of me in a swimsuit! I know! Gasp! Talk about body confidence. Who am I these days?!

  • artsy fartsy,  corona virus 2020,  Funny Fashion,  sewing catastrophes

    Raarrr! Masks: a DIY


    Who goes there? Coronavirus Raarr MONSTERS?!! Let’s get our growls out!

    I decided I’m going to share this. It’s hard giving up good ideas (remember Merbaby?). I hate it when I’m shopping and I see something I thought up in a box on the shelves but it is what it is and I am in no position to copyright and patent and trademark anything right now. If you want to do it for me you know how to contact me. Also, it’s not like someone else hasn’t thought of this already. If they haven’t, why not!?? If you have kids who like “teef” as I do, you should get busy with your sewing machine and make one of these! It’s very fun and what else are you doing? Watching Tiger King? Just get your sewing machine out already and do it.

    I know I say everything is easy but really, this is. Except for step six. I hate step six. I guess I’m just not that experienced as a seamstress. But whatever. Now’s a great time to polish up my skillz. Woot.

    Raarrr-masks-supplies 2

    So here is what you’ll need: 

    • a 9×16 inch piece of solid cotton fabric (Prints just don’t do the “teef” justice.) (Smaller if you are making for a child. I’m not going to do the math for you because I suck at math. Just wing it down a third or so, depending on your kid’s face size. What can I say, some kids have BIG faces!)
    • white craft foam (Who knew! Everybody has some stuffed in a craft drawer somewhere. If you don’t, get some already!)
    • the bottom cut off an old t-shirt
    • a sewing machine (Everyone else might as well pass on this whole post.)
    • sharp sewing scissors (You don’t have any? It’s about time you ordered some!! And when you get them put some tape on there that says FABRIC ONLY. It’s time to adult up.)

    Okay, let’s, get to it!


    My Aunt Keren was a professional seamstress when I was growing up. She taught me to sew. I used to spend long hours in her sewing room. I got my first Barbie doll (and only Barbie doll until recently.) at age 14 and I used to make clothes for the doll with the scraps leftover from my aunt’s sewing projects. I had a whole drawer in her sewing room that was the Barbie doll’s apartment. Wallpaper on the sides of the drawer, a check box for the bed. It’s hard to believe I was so into that doll at age 14. I guess that’s what happens when your mom won’t let you have Barbies as a young child because she’s worried about body dysmorphic disorder–which I totally got anyway despite her best efforts.

    My Aunt Keren taught me how to harmonize. We used to sing hymns together to the sound of her whirring machine and her bird, Jasper, singing in the background and mumbling about what a pretty bird he was… oh memories!  Anyway, one of the many lessons that my aunt taught me was to iron and be tidy when you are sewing. Snip your threads as you go because lose threads later are signs of a mess. So I do that still and I have pride in it. Funny how these lessons stick. Just like I always wash my paintbrushes carefully… teach your kids these lessons, they stick!

    Okay, off soapbox.

    Step one and two are to sew a 1/4 inch hem on the short ends of your 9×16″ rectangle. This will create the finished edge of your filter pocket. Then fold your rectangle in thirds with the hemmed edges overlapping about an inch. Cut your 1″ inch thick ring of t-shirt fabric and cut it in half.


    Step 3: Take your two lengths of t-shirt string and pin the ends into the corners of your rectangle. These are going to be your straps that you tie the mask on with. Yes, they are way too long but that is good because it leaves plenty of room to customize later. The most important part of this step is to make sure that the straps are out of the way of where your side seams are going to go.

    If you are having trouble visualizing where these straps go, just scroll down and take a peek at the finished product. They are kind of like two very long mirrored “Cs” (Coco Chanel style) that are going towards the center with their ends stuck in the corners.

    Confused yet? Sorry. I should have just made a movie but my laptop is out of scratch disk space so I got no time for movie editing until I fix that problem. So basically pin everything together and sew a 1/2 inch seam down the short ends of your folded rectangle. AND! Don’t forget to remove your pins before you sew over them and break a needle. Been there, done that a few times. It sucks.


    Step Four: Turn it inside out! Now do those long straps make sense? Then iron everything, like Auntie Keren says.

    I should probably mention that I don’t think you should iron craft foam. I think heat can melt it. This does create a sanitation problem (I also don’t recommend washing in hot water or worse putting in the dryer) but we all know this mask is for fashion and not for doing surgery. It will keep you from touching your mouth. It won’t keep you from catching COVID. It just slows the spreading. Capeesh? Okay. Moving on.


    Step Five: Add the TEEF! Maybe this could have been done earlier in step two. Yeah, that would probably be smarter. Hopefully, you read all the instructions before you start and you will do that but if not, Have no fear! It’s still doable at this step. How do I know? Because that’s what I did! :P


    Step 6: Now it’s time for the hard part: sewing pleats. I don’t know why I struggle so hard getting my pleats even but I do. It doesn’t help that the pocket section makes it even thicker in the middle. I think putting aside your perfectionism is the best approach here. Just add three pleats as evenly as you can and sew it. A good tip is to NOT use contrasting thread. It’s gonna be messy if you are a beginner level sewing non-expert like me. Get over it. Maybe someday I will be better at this step.

    When you are done with the pleats you are done!


    If you make one of these please send me a picture! I would love to see all the coronavirus monsters out there killin’ it!


Secret Agent Josephine
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© Brenda Ponnay