more new life on the farm

   Posted by: liz   in Uncategorized

IMG_2631The last time we “rented a ram” for our ewes was three years ago. Three springs ago, two lambs were born on the same day, and apparently I texted Kenny, who was at the office, “I’m never lambing again! This is too stressful!”  I don’t remember saying that to him, but he reminded me of it yesterday when Iris, our five-year-old ewe had a prolonged labor, and I texted him, “I’m never doing lambing season again!”

The three previous lambs born to our farm were born within 30 minutes of labor. At 1:30 yesterday, I noticed Iris was beginning labor, and by 3:30, she hadn’t delivered yet. Kenny had just arrived home at 3:25 and decided to give a local sheep farmer a call in case we needed to intervene. We know better than to get involved too early, but two hours seemed to us to be a bit long, even though she was continuing to labor. The farmer was extremely helpful and said to give it another hour and if nothing happened by then he would rush over. Within ten minutes of that phone call, the hooves and nose appeared and within another two minutes, a male sheep was delivered. Mama Iris started cleaning off the baby and making sure it was moving, nuzzlingIMG_2635 it with her nose and talking to it with a low bleat. We were all relieved.

And then Rowan noticed another hoof had appeared in the birth canal.

Sure enough, another hoof and a nose appeared. Iris was not doing any pushing or laboring – she continued to clean the first lamb. So Kenny helped deliver the second lamb. A girl this time (to the boys’ relief!  We raise male lambs until they are about 7 months old, and then we butcher them. Females get to stay and become mamas).

So now, we have Lilly and Chops. We are fairly certain that a few of the other sheep are also pregnant. We will find out soon enough!IMG_2629



Easter is better than Christmas

   Posted by: liz   in faith, family, family fun, food

IMG_2597Facebook and Twitter were “all a twitter” with Easter pictures this weekend: adorable kids dressed to the nines, family photos of matching and unmatching outfits, and baskets filled with confections, colored eggs, and stuffed animals. I tweeted an adorable picture of my too-cool-for-skool boys, but the remainder of the pictures I took throughout Easter Sunday were of food.

I loved each picture that was shared – I looked closely at what they were wearing, what each hostess was serving on their dinner tables, what desserts were eaten, and what easter baskets were filled with.

Easter is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. Christmas, the long-time favorite, is fun and nostalgic and warm and fuzzy. But Easter is the celebration of resurrection, life that springs from death, the end of winter, cold, and grey. Easter is robin-egg blue and blue skies and green grass and yellow daffodils and warming temperatures; new lambs and more eggs in the hen house, the rebirth of the Alleluia at Eucharist. Easter is second life. Second chances.


I don’t help to prepare an altar for Easter Eucharist anymore. It was the best day to prepare for, as an altar guild member: such gorgeous flowers, polished silver, brand new beeswax candles, and crisp linens. I did help to prepare a dining room table for Easter dinner. I took lots of pictures of the new linen napkins, the gorgeous colorful tulips my mom sent, the gorgeous platters filled with dishes from other guests. And the china and freshly-polished silver passed down from my great-grandparents. The table was prepared with holy hands from the past, and from now.

And even though Poinsettias are regal and stunning, tulips and hyacinth are my favorite.




   Posted by: liz   in family, family fun

tonight at soccer practice…(four words that do not, on their own, invoke joy in my heart)…i experienced joy that i haven’t felt since holding my newborn babies.

when rowan was born, kenny and i couldn’t take our eyes off of him. he looked just like kenny – every hospital visitor told us so. we would sit and stare, watch his breathing in and out, comment on every sound he would make and surmise at every whimper: gas? hunger? wet diaper?

i remember feeding him in the quiet of our nursery once we were home, and having an overwhelming feeling of joy. i wasn’t necessarily happy at the moment: i was exhausted and sore and a wee bit scared. but i remember feeling joy. this little tiny newborn, who i had been getting to know since feeling him kick inside of me, sat nursing, completely content and happy with no reason to be happy except that his needs were met. he was warm, clean, and his hunger satiated. because of me. joy doesn’t have to be felt only in the presence of happiness: in that particular moment, i felt joy in the midst of exhaustion and pain.

IMG_2453so tonight, i watched three separate soccer practices sitting in a not-so-comfortable folding chair on a windy field in 43 degrees for nearly two hours. if you know me, you know that being cold is pretty much torture for me. but i was sitting in that chair, exactly where i needed to be, and i was joyful watching our three boys growing into their soccer abilities, having a great time with these somewhat strangers. the boys aren’t the best players on their teams, but for the first time in our six years of playing fall and spring soccer, they are in the better half of their team. they have confidence in their dribbling and fast breaks, and they’re not timid around the ball or the opposing players. and they’re loving every minute of it. when you’re a parent, it almost doesn’t get any better than watching your child when they’re experiencing their own joy.



and on the seventh day…

   Posted by: liz   in hobnob theatre co.

If you’ve been in a high-intensity artistic project, you have, no doubt, experienced the “let-down” that comes in the days following its finish.

Not only is it because you’ve been spending a lot of time with friends (although that is a big part of it), but it’s also because your creative juices have been flowing over the course of the production and then all of a sudden, they stop. It’s like the headaches you get when you cut out caffeine or sugar from your diet. The dictionary defines withdrawal as “an act or process of withdrawing; retreat, removal, or detachment.”

In theatre, you spend a lot of time making yourself vulnerable around the same people as you bring a story to life. Once you are all on stage, in front of an audience, it comes together like a charm. You still make yourself vulnerable with your fellow actors, director, and even the stage crew: perhaps you said a word funny, or that accent just didn’t work well on that particular line, or you almost forgot a line. Every time you create, or use your creative forces to create, you make yourself vulnerable; you are showing your humanity. We all mess up, and we all succeed in our creative choices.  Still, it’s enthralling putting yourself out there and being a completely different person with friends who are also performing different characters. Telling a story and using your artistic talents is exhilerating and exhausting all at the same time.

Monreale_god_resting_after_creationSo that period of let-down, or withdrawal, that one feels in the empty long days following the closing of a production is normal and expected. And holy.

The creation story in Genesis recalls how the Creator of the Universe also rested. In Genesis 2:2-3 it says,

“By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” (New International Version)

Even in the Enuma Elish, an ancient near-Eastern text that includes a very similar creation account from the god Marduk, there is a period of rest following the act of the creation of the universe.

We were created to be creative, but also to rest. Our production closed last Saturday night, and Sunday through Tuesday I lived in my pajamas. Sure, I felt guilty for not being productive. But I needed it. By Wednesday, I was ready to be a functioning part of society again. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of detaching as I did: Kenny had to go into work on Monday and Tuesday. Several people (also including Kenny) from our cast are currently working on the local production of Jesus Christ Superstar, so their creative juices (and evenings spent together) are still a-flowing. But eventually, they will rest.

Resting is a necessity.

We are all meant for rest, so that we can begin again.


Photo In the Public Domain: Byzantine mosaic: Monreale god is resting after creation.



   Posted by: liz   in family, farm, food

at dinner tonight, one of the boys asked, “remember that farm when we’d go to get milk in a jar?”

it’s been a while since we’d bought raw milk. soccer was canceled (because of the rain, and bad field conditions), and kenny had rehearsal for the musical he’s working on with another company.  so the boys and i dug out our old half gallon mason jars, cleaned them out and headed towards Slate Lick to the farm we used to frequent for raw milk when the boys were much younger.

it rained the whole drive there, but towards the end of the drive, there is a summit that is always so gorgeous. tonight, it was especially beautiful with low-hanging clouds horizontally slicing the far mountains in half (click to enlarge for detail):


the entire 26-minute drive isn’t all this idyllic. in fact, parts of it are downright frightening. there’s the steep hill that reminds me of an episode of Twin Peaks:


and then not a mile away, i swear i’ve stumbled onto the set of The Walking Dead:




These scenes are especially eerie with the cloudy dark skies surrounding them. The country around us can go from gorgeous to strangely desserted-looking quickly.  I guess that’s what you get out in big land country.




A Woman, Deconstructed.

   Posted by: liz   in hobnob theatre co.

flirtThe playbill proof was waiting to be approved. We had an hour to approve and send it back so that the 700 playbills would be printed in time for our upcoming production of A Christmas Carol. It was perfect. But what kept us from approving it was doubt.

In it contained a “Coming up next from hobnob theatre co….” and a silhouette graphic of Victorian men and woman behind the title A Woman of No Importance. We doubted if it was the right choice for our next show. We doubted if Butler would embrace Oscar Wilde’s serious side. We, ourselves, were sure of it: the play was funny, deliciously word-filled, and meaningful. Not only would it make people laugh and entertain them, it also served as a conversation starter…a story that audience members might be thinking of for a few days after seeing it.

When you run a theatre company, you need to keep several factors in mind: Will actors want to audition for this show?  Will the public want to come see this kind of play? Will we be able to do this play justice?  It’s a lot of pressure!

We doubted. But finally, we approved the proof and the playbill for our 700-member audience of A Christmas Carol and actors and future audience members alike expected us to move on this, now that it was in print.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We have spent the last two and a half months recreating Oscar Wilde’s drawing room comedy characters and conversations. The witty banter, jokes on life, marriage, society, and questions about family ties, lies, and secrets came to life by so many talented people.

Leslie, our costume designer, created and built costumes that were perfect for each person. Whether it was a borrowed costume or one she built from scratch, the costumes framed the actors perfectly. This is the second show she has worked on with us and she is a gem! She knows the time periods so well…knows when a child would wear tights, or a dowager would wear gloves, and when they wouldn’t. Both Kenny and I have worked with her as directors and it’s so liberating to allow the costumer to show you their creations and know that they’re perfect, and everything you imagined for the characters.

kenny(Photo of Kenny, introducing the play to an invited audience at our dress rehearsal.)

Kenny directed this show, and he brought together a cast of actors who fit so well together, and who took over their roles with ease. I watched Kenny toil behind the scenes, outside of rehearsal, on weekends, and in the wee hours of the morning to make this the production he had in his mind the first time he listened to it. He was enamored with the script at first read, then listened to it several times and knew that he wanted to produce it. He never let the cast see his detail-oriented self get frustrated. If your director doesn’t give you direction, doesn’t guide your character choices to fit his/her vision of the show, and doesn’t also encourage you along the way, what is the point? Anyone can shuffle people around a stage reciting their lines. But a good director works with each of their actors and allows them to create and have fun with their lines all the while encouraging them in their craft. I think Kenny did this perfectly. He was always very supportive in our choices, and when we interpreted lines or blocking in a way he thought didn’t bring out the best in our character, he guided us elsewhere. But gently. I’ve been in far too many companies where the director sits and yells, throws up their hands and yells, gets frustrated and yells…never communicates. How can you help guide the creativity of a group of artists by being a drill sergeant?

sillyLike so many of the great playwrights (I’m including Shakespeare, and then the more modern Chekhov, Ibsen, Wilde, Shaw, and then even more modern, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Stoppard, Friel, and O’Casey) you can’t just start blocking and running scenes.  There needs to be included in the rehearsal schedule a time to discuss, talk about, and play with the language that is on the page. Wilde’s characters have so much fun just talking to each other. The actors needed to be having fun with each other, just like their characters were.

In A Woman of No Importance, Wilde weaves together two stories over the course of four Acts. The play starts off like a scene from The Importance of Being Ernest…character introductions of the plays funniest characters. As the play progresses, a serious storyline is introduced, some humorous scenes are then sprinkled throughout, and the play closes on a completely serious note.  The audience goes from laughing constantly, to being completely silent as the drama unfolds.

angstI was honored to be an actor in this show, and I was challenged from the very beginning straight through to our closing performance. The talent that I was able to work with urged me on to be better, work harder, and be more real. I played the role of a mother of a grown son. It isn’t so far fetched, as my own three sons are growing rapidly. I wasn’t able to fully employ method acting in this role as I have no “grown son” experiences to pull from. But it wasn’t difficult to connect with my character at all: a woman who loves her son more than anything else in the world. What I did find difficult about this character was the ability to put myself into this set of societal rules in which the story takes place, and remove myself from my 21st century frame of mind. My modern view would ask, “Why on earth couldn’t she just move on with her life and her son and although it would be painful at first, forget about the man who left them in the first place?” But Rachel Arbuthnot’s society scripted her life for her: she really WAS disgraced, dishonored, and ignored if she didn’t lie about her “dead husband,” and if her secret, that she had a child outside of marriage, was found out. Not even the sweet Lady Hunstanton would call her friend. What I still can’t connect with was her choice not to forgive. Until the bitter end, she is unforgiving towards Lord Illingworth. Perhaps her Archdeacon’s sermons never touched on the topic of forgiveness. Or she didn’t listen. I think Oscar Wilde has a very dramatic familyending, and it works well for the stage. And again, the fact that she has no forgiveness, and even hate, for this fellow human, can be what the audience mulls over on their walk home from the theatre. But it was and still is, something that I never full connected with in my character.

I also don’t know how other theatre owners act in their own shows over and over. We are a small theatre company. We’re certainly not getting rich on it (we call this a very expensive habit), and that’s not our goal. But we do want to be able to create characters in our own shows from time to time. I enjoyed so much to be able to act again (after 15 years!), but I will wait a while to act in a hobnob performance. The stress of partnering with the producer and director AND being ready to walk on stage as a character with a lot of lines was rough at times. I will be so glad to work with these actors again on stage, but perhaps in a different company.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

deaconWe struck the set yesterday: a beautiful spring, sunny Sunday morning.  This show was staged in the Art Center: a huge wood-floored building where artists give pottery and painting lessons, and local artists display their work. The audience sat on three sides of the stage, and the actors entered and exited using their aisles. This wasn’t a framed moving picture that a proscenium stage gives. The scenes thrust themselves into the audience so that the audience was privy to a private drawing room conversation. This is hobnob’s fourth full-length play, and the other three were produced on the Succop stage, so this experience was completely different. The Art Center isn’t set up to be a theatre, but there is a large open space in the Gallery section where Kenny decided, along with Aaron, his set and lighting designer, to stage the show. Coming up with backstage areas, locations for the lighting trees, and the stage manager “booth” was our first challenge. Then actually getting enough theatrical light to work in the “round” was another challenge. Tech week was exhausting, as usual, but the actors were so grateful to finally be in the space, working with our real set pieces,  props, and costumes. This was so helpful as the technical aspects (especially lighting!) needed the crew’s full attention.  By our preview audience/dress rehearsal, it was all worked out, and the show was ready for an audience.

karenWe still wondered how this small town would provide an audience for us. We had five performances, and four of them were sold out. Some of those sold-out performances were over-sold, so we set up extra chairs. We sold over 240 tickets for this show, which was more than we imagined. But overall, I think we feel that we did this play justice. The actors brought to life each character perfectly. The audience feedback was humbling and encouraging, and the people that worked with us behind the scenes, on the stage, and at the Art Center were truly grateful and complimentary.

meetIt’s the perfect storm, the trifecta, the trinity of theatre: an experience that unfolds on stage beautifully, behind the scenes seamlessly, and keeps all parties wanting more.  We are so grateful for the people that work with us on our shows. You can’t put a show on a stage, charge for tickets and call it a great experience if you don’t toil to make it one. The creation of a moving story takes crafting, special care of the parts, and using our fullest ability to create at every turn. Theatre engages so many different creative channels. It’s amazing watching all of the creativity poured forth on stage and behind the scenes in our shows.

So, our gratitude and awe goes out to all of you who participated in this show – behind the stage, on the stage, and as audience members. We need not doubt in the future!  Thank you!

groupBW (2)

(Click on each picture for a fuller view. Karl Kobil and Wynne Jenkins are our amazing photographers!)


reading. and the guilty conscience.

   Posted by: liz   in books, family, homeschooling

I have always read to the boys. From the time they were infants sitting in my lap or toddling around the local library, and during preschoolers library story hour. When their kindergarten curriculum didn’t include “book time,” I added it to our daily routine.

So when I hear a parent say, “We have instilled a deep love of reading in our child” and see their child with a book in their hand, or sitting in a corner with their nose in the book, I ask them, “How did you do it?

Every parent’s answer has been the same: “I have always read to them, even when they were a baby.” “We spent so much time at the library when they were toddlers,” “I model reading for pleasure all the time. ”  ”I’m always looking for books that I know will interest them, and they devour everything I find for them!”

I have done all the same things since the time our boys were newborns. And all three of my boys hate to read. They would rather wash dishes than read. Clean the toilet than read. Go to church over the library.

I love to read. My husband does not. And if you look at our professional record, he is much more successful than I am. So I shouldn’t worry about the fact that even though my boys can all read, they just don’t like to do it.

But deep down, I fear their brains aren’t being stretched and challenged, their hearts aren’t learning to love fictional characters and worlds created by all the great writers. I am saddened that they don’t find (any!) joy in going to the library with me. I try very hard not to play the comparison games with other kids whose moms (dare I say) brag about how much their kids have read and are reading, and how they “instilled a love of reading in them!”

Because it’s all bollocks. I am convinced that we do nothing to influence our children in their love or hatred of reading. It would be like me saying, “I have instilled a love of minecraft in all three of my boys: isn’t it wonderful?”

One of these days, moms everywhere will learn that what our kids love has more to do with them and less to do with us. I am learning this. Ever so slowly.




happiest ninth birthday, sawyer cole!

   Posted by: liz   in family, family fun

sawcosawyer’s birth was the shortest of the three boys. he was born much in the same ways that he tackles his days today: quickly, fiercely, and with purpose.

kenny, one-year old rowan, and i were dining at an indian restaurant with friends when i was having contractions that were 10 minutes apart. i was ready to have this baby (only 3 days away from my due date), so i ordered Mateer Paneer extra spicy. within 9 hours, sawyer was born!

IMG_0704sawyer, you take on each day with gusto. you are intrepid and passionate. your heart is big and your willingness to help and learn is huge! you care about what others think and take their needs into consideration, which is a quality beyond your nine years. you love to learn to play the piano, you have fun in your soccer games, minecraft is your favorite video game, and you chose Cocoa Puffs as your birthday cereal this year.

we love you and couldn’t be more proud of who you are growing up to be! (PS. he wanted me to take this photo because he was sure it looked like he was drinking beer because of the glass.)



friday stream of conscience…

   Posted by: liz   in homekeeping, homeschooling

we’ve been going at full speed all week long. i feel a bit like a drill sergeant at times keeping the boys just one little step ahead of our full schedule this year.

i need someone to keep me ahead of the schedule too, but nobody applied for the job, so i’m on my own.

this morning is friday, and i’m dragging. i’m feeling the need for a recharge of my batteries. i snapped at the boys because they can’t keep their room clean and they keep dragging dirt in from the outside (ha!). really, i was snapping at them because there is camping gear in every room in the house that needs to be put away, costumes from our summer show that need to be put into storage, and i swear there is a dining room table in our dining room under that mound of junk.

after a week of go-go-go making meals, doing laundry and schooling three boys, i’m hitting a wall. so we take this friday morning slowly. after two subjects (math and writing), the boys head out to the swings. i notice that there is a chair on the deck in full sun, so i go to sit on it. the sun feels so good….15 minutes later, i wake up.

i’m still crabby. there’s still a cluttered house and it’s nearly lunchtime. that means the natives will be hungry. that means I’LL be hungry.

i never understood those who said, “i just forgot to eat today” because that never happens to me. until this year. there is so much going on, so much to juggle, that i haven’t been taking care of myself as much. i haven’t been crabby like this all summer, even though the weather was cool and barely pool-worthy.

IMG_1151the boys are still on the swings. 25 minutes later and they’ve got some game going on. i enjoy the few more quiet moments i have until they come screaming in at full speed yelling something about being starving and i yell something back about not knowing what it’s like to actually be starving. (please tell me i’m not the only one who uses this line on their “starving” kids?)

and then i’m thankful for that. thankful that they don’t know hunger. thankful that we can feed them. thankful then, that we can feed them knowledge and habits, value time and family. thankful for everything that i can feed them in a day’s time because they are here with me all day long.

maybe it was the nap in the sunshine for 15 minutes. maybe it was 15 minutes to myself for the first time this week…maybe it was a whisper, a reminder, that this life we’ve chosen, that we’ve been given, is one pretty spectacular gift.

so i better not blow it.



IMG_1167i think i need to write this book.

i’m not the world’s easiest camper. and i never jump at the opportunity to “go camping.”  so when kenny said to me two weeks ago, “how about instead of a few days at ocean city, we go camping on labor day weekend instead!” i wasn’t exactly excited.

but then we registered at the campground where our friends were going to be. and then we told the boys (their excitement WAY outdid my excitement!), and then kenny brought home fun camping things like air mattresses for the boys and a cast iron pot and a Coleman camping stove and…a coffee percolator. and i got just a little bit excited.

fortunately, we were camping with people who i was really looking forward to spending time with, and whose kids are great  for our boys to hang around with. i was assured this was going to be a GREAT weekend. and…

IMG_1168i survived!  and actually really did enjoy it. it helped that we were at a great campground, with a perfect natural setting (a huge creek, lots of green open space and lots of woods), and some fun activities like a pool, a zipline (the boys did it three times in a row), a climbing wall, a gaga pit, and great camping friends.

but, if you’re like me, you’re going to need some kind of dummies guide to enjoying your first big camping trip (yes, i consider 2.5 days and 2 nights a BIG camping trip. ask me in a few years, and i might have a different perspective…). so consider this a cliff’s notes version of:

First-Time Camping for Dummies

- pinterest is your friend. when we were officially registered at the campground, i went back to Pinterest and did a general search for all things camping. because all summer when my camping-savvy friends were pinning pins like “101 genius camping surivival tips,” i was laughing at those crazy campers knowing that would NEVER be me needing those tips. so, with my tail between my legs i searched on and found some great tips, but mostly recipes (shared below). so do not feel “above” the help of pinterest. it will help you in your most dire hour. go ye, and pin and plan away. i searched  under “camping” and “camping help” and “camping recipes.”

- go with experienced campers. (because they will ALWAYS have extras of something that you will forget you’ll need. like a clothes line. and a table). kenny and i made a great long list and both of these items were on that list, but we forgot them in the 11th hour of packing and trying to get-out-of-dodge. we were with three other families (and several more who knew those families) who were experienced campers and had exactly what we needed for our soggy towels, creek-drenched underwear, and food preparation needs.  we only needed to borrow a card table (our fold out table was safe at home), and a clothes line (we couldn’t find our clothes line in the garage before we left). oh, and mustard, ketchup, a hot dog campfire stick, and hot dog rolls when our crescent rolls didn’t work over the fire.

if you don’t have the luxury of going with other experienced campers, or you just want to go it alone, then i suggest getting the full book Camping for Dummies and not rely on this cliffs notes version.

- plan ahead and arrive at your campsite armed with RECIPES and lots of food and snacks.  again, Pinterest comes in really handy with this. but Google does an adequate job if your search is really specific. kenny had already arrived home with his awesome Lodge cast iron pot, so I searched for cast iron pot recipes as well as basic campfire recipes. we found the following recipes:

Homemade Hamburger Helper. kenny was a little skeptical that I could get my stuff together and prepare the ingredients ahead of time for this one. i proved him wrong because i wasn’t so sure the boxed version of hamburger helper would be so good on our gastro-intestinal systems since we have never eaten it before, and who really wants to deal with G-I issues while camping? this recipe is so simple, and it’s easy to prepare the spices ahead of time, measure out your pasta, and pack the rest of the ingredients in a cooler. it was delicious. we doubled the recipe and shared with our friends who lent us their table.

Dutch Oven Monkey Bread. even easier than the homemade hamburger helper was this amazing breakfast treat. we made this on our second morning (because EVERYONE does pancakes on their first morning of camping!). i changed the recipe a bit and didn’t use biscuits. i used refrigerator cinnamon rolls, and still rolled them in the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture. the extra icing that comes in the cans was a bonus!

IMG_1190Dutch Oven Cobbler. the boys were so excited when they saw cans of Sprite in the shopping cart the night before we left. “we get to drink soda while we camp? awesome!!!”  unfortunately for them, it was for this recipe (can you tell we torture our children in not allowing them sugary drinks? we’re such dictators). this was such a pretty dish and came together quickly. we had it for lunch on our last day of camping.

This recipe for crescent roll hot dogs did not work at all. the dough kept falling off the hot dog and it was a hot mess! we just roasted the hot dogs and used bread for rolls and our friends’ mustard, ketchup and homemade relish.

- indulge in a dutch oven. you’re going to want to cook up some authentic camping recipes. and cooking over the fire is fun, but we already do that in our back yard enough. so to make your camping cuisine truly authentic and delcious (see above recipes), go and get yourself one of these. Walmart has the cheapest prices!and go with a partner (in my case my incredible husband) that knows how to light coals without the use of lighter fluid.

- air mattresses. need i say more?

IMG_1173- percolator. coffee perked over a fire or a Coleman camp stove is the only way to wake up from sleeping in a tent, all damp and dewey. forget the tea or hot chocolate…get yourself some coffee when you camp.

- bug spray. the good stuff. do NOT kid yourself that your au-naturale mixture you made will keep away the bugs. it won’t, and you’ll have lost a pint of blood to the wild mosquitoes if you use anything that you made yourself. bring out the big guns: deet!

- if you’re camp ground allows, have happy hour! i’m not saying that we did or did not enjoy an adult beverage during our camping trip. but happy hour makes the twilight hours so much more tolerable.