• 15 minute posts,  artsy fartsy,  Slow Living

    Been Busy


    Where have I been? Well, I’ve been a little busy lately and I got out of my newly found habit of blogging in the morning. I’ll blame it on my mom. But it’s a good thing. My mom came to visit me for a week (while my dad drove a friend’s van from Portland Oregon to Austin Texas) and she actually gets up earlier than my kids so it was kind of nice to have some morning company for a change. But that also kept me away from my computer. So if you were wondering where I was, I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting with my mom. It was super nice to have her around.

    In my old age I have come to love cooking. I know those who are older than me are laughing and shaking their heads. Shake away, I’m right behind you. This is really great except it has been a source of frustration for me when my kids turn their noses up at my newfound love of cooking. I mistakenly think to myself that if I put love into my cooking, they should reciprocate that love with compliments and requests for more of my loving cooking. Harumph! It’s not going that way at all. Not that it won’t someday, but presently they are not interested. In fact, they would much rather not eat my cooking at all in favor of a bag of chips with a side of YouTube. They ask me what’s for dinner and then decide if they are hungry or not. You probably know how that goes.

    You can imagine how wonderful it felt to hear compliment after compliment from my loving mom when I made her special dishes that stayed within the boundaries of her new healthy living die-t (that we have corroborated on together). I am super thankful for my relationship with my parents right now. I think this is the natural way of things. When your kids start to pull away from you to become their own strong individuals, you find comfort in your parents. At least that is how it is working out for me. My relationship with my parents is better than it has ever been.

    I know I’m lucky. My parents had me when they were barely twenty so we don’t have that many years between us in age. Bug will not be so lucky. When she is my age, I will be (hang on, let me grab a calculator) eighty-three. EIGHTY THREE! I only plan to live until 82 so that’s kind of grim. Of course I could live until I’m 120 so who knows.  Anyway, I’m super thankful for my parents right now.


    My mom left Saturday and now I am back to my usual routine. She did leave behind a photo album from that trip we took when I was sixteen across country in the broken-down RV so I am looking forward to blogging about that. It will be challenging though. I might have to fill in some gaps in my memory with a little fiction, and maybe embellish a little to protect the identity of my loved ones.

    This morning I walked the nature trail with the dogs and I made you a little video. I had a rough anxiety-filled night (it was so stupid, I was stressing about the strangest things. I’ll elaborate later.) and I’ve been trying to start my mornings with positive thoughts instead of long lists of things I need to do. Most days I am not successful at this new morning mantra, including this morning. There I was thinking about all the things that are bothering me and all of a sudden my nostrils were hit with the super strong scent of honeysuckle! I didn’t take a picture. I should have but I was busy with dogs and dog poop bags and just not ready. But my point is from that moment on I took myself out of my anxiety filled brain and I started to notice how pretty it was outside!

    It was really pretty this morning. Summer is definitely in full swing. The brush in the nature trail is dry and brittle. All the creeks (except that one really swampy one) are dried up. The mustard and queen Anne’s lace are dead. Their white branches look like tiny birch forests for squirrels and quail and speaking of quail, they are everywhere! I saw dozens and dozens of quail. If you have a keen eye, you might even see some in my movie but they are tiny specs.

    My to-do list is still flapping away like a rolodex connected to a fan but I’m ignoring it in favor of checking in with you and sharing all the beauty around me. I love where we live. I love California. I know we have a bad reputation for traffic and politics but in the nooks and crannies are the prettiest things and of course everyone knows we have the best weather. So I’m trying to dwell on these things instead of worry.


    So pretty, right? I’ve been watercoloring a lot more lately too. The hardest part is getting myself to sit down *and slow down* in order to paint but once I do I am very happy.

    A friend sent me some pink lemons and avocados and of course those lemons were screaming at me to paint them.


    To the untrained eye, the painting looks pretty good. Don’t look too close, it’s very messy. But just like everything in life we can’t obsess over little mistakes. Just blur your eyes and soak in the pretty parts. That’s my mantra these days.

  • 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?!