The Power of the Written Word

I. Love. Books. Fiction, non-fiction, travel, adventure, sci-fi, food, fitness, and the list goes on… the printed word has always been incredibly important to me. My mother taught me to read before I was four and I never looked back. Never have I been so influenced, so enraptured, so utterly hopelessly completely in love with a book, though, as I am with my “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have had this set of books for almost as long as I can remember and I have read them countless times through.

The books, however, had been packed up in a box for far too long — so long, in fact, that I had no idea where this box was. I thought it was in a particular closet but was proven wrong last year when I dug through said closet in search of my beloved books.


Only the most cherished books on the planet.

It turned out, I discovered a few weeks ago, that my boyfriend had moved this box (and a few others containing most of my books from my childhood) to his parents’ attic in New Hampshire. And now we have finally been reunited. My books are safe and sound in my apartment and I am devouring them for probably the 27th time.

I know that these books are technically fiction loosely based on Laura’s life. In my mind, though, every word written in these books is exactly how things happened, lo, those one hundred plus years ago. I certainly can’t remember conversations I had with my parents when I was five but I know deep down in my heart that Laura could. And did. And she wrote them all down much later in life and published the best books ever written.

When I was a kid my favorite was On the Banks of Plum Creek. The Ingallses lived in a sod-roofed house (hole!) dug out of a hillside; Mary and Laura attended school for the first time in their lives (at ages 9 and 8, respectively); Laura met the evil Nellie Oleson (who reminded me all too much of a group of Mean Girls I grew up with). As an adult I am partial to Farmer Boy, the story of a year in Laura’s future husband Almanzo’s life in upstate — and I do mean UPSTATE — New York. As much as I love the writings of Ruth Reichl, Julia Child, and James Beard, none of them has anything on Laura. The best food porn of all time is contained in Farmer Boy. Read it.


If you want to read the whole series but aren’t sure of the order in which the books are meant to be read, I found this handy list in Little House on the Prairie. I was probably just either side of ten when I wrote it:


Apparently I’ve been a crazy list-maker for even longer than I realized.

And for the love of all that is holy (namely this set of books), PLEASE do not ever. ever. ever. mention that TV series named after one of these books to me. Thank you.




It is a nasty, nasty day in New England. I’ve been wishing for snow all week but to no avail… it’s windy and crazy rainy with a record-breaking temperature of 58 degrees in my town — at 5:30pm. In January. In New England. Apparently the temperature is going to drop like a rock tonight and tomorrow’s expected high is 34. I’m OK with that. We’ll be going on a 65 minute run. I’d much rather run in 34 degrees than 64 degrees. My dad has always said I must be part penguin.

So instead of being outdoorsy I haven’t left my apartment and have been cooking. I made walnut pesto (#pinenutsaretoofreakingexpensive), carrot-harissa dip (mostly based on this recipe but I always tweak recipes to suit my needs/preferences/ingredients on hand), and baked doughnuts (mostly based on this recipe but I always tweak recipes to suit my needs/preferences/ingredients on hand).


I’d love to blame the poor quality of this picture on my haste/laziness in taking it. That’s partly true but I am also just not a very good photographer.

I made the doughnuts with some butternut squash my aunt in Maine grew and topped them with apple cider glaze instead of chocolate. Creativity! I also made homemade Swiffer wet cloths by mixing water, white vinegar, and peppermint Dr. Bronner soap in a big zip bag and adding enough cheap, thin washcloths to soak up all the liquid. ‘Cause I’m weird like that (and I hate using synthetic chemicals to clean my house just as much as I hate using them in/on my body).


If you know me you know that I am currently unemployed — by choice. I am dreading the day when I have to start looking for a job… and that day is approaching far too quickly for my taste. I would much rather be making hair conditioner, relearning to play the piano,, and, of course, playing outside.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a gorgeous daikon radish and a less-than-perfectly-fresh cucumber that are just dying to be pickled. Heheheheheh.

12 in ’16


It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged (and no, you probably wouldn’t know my previous blog. it still exists, though, so maybe I’ll link to it someday). I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity. I used to be very creative — cooking, writing, crafting, blogging, singing/playing instruments… but I spent the past ten years in a retail job, the last five of those while working on my bachelor’s degree. There wasn’t much time or energy for creativity. Now that I have completed my degree and have escaped my somewhat stultifying job I’ve decided that it’s time to reboot my creative side. First step:  cooking like a madwoman. Second step:  new blog. Third step:  dust off my guitar. And so on, and so on, and so on.


Heading into the woods on a recent hike in New Hampshire.

Why “Happy Vegan Camper?” I’ve always loved being outdoors, walking in the woods, kayaking, Geocaching, feeling the sun on my face. Something really clicked about a year ago, though, when my boyfriend mentioned his longtime fascination with Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness. I was suddenly consumed by the idea of more serious hiking and even backpacking. I spent last winter reading, researching, and buying gear, and we did a lot of hiking, a little car camping, and a tiny bit of backpacking in 2015. We love it. We can’t get out in the woods nearly enough to satiate ourselves. We don’t have immediate plans to hike the 100 Mile Wilderness but we may get there someday. For now we are spending as much time as possible exploring the wilds of New England and hope to do more backpacking this year.

And yes, I am a vegan. I am also obsessed with living as natural a lifestyle as I can. I moisturize my skin with organic, extra-virgin coconut oil; I burn essential oils to combat colds and flu; I clean my apartment with white vinegar. I eat as organic as is feasible for me. I avoid at all costs artificial sweeteners, colors, flavorings, and preservatives.  I try to err on the side of more whole foods, fewer processed foods.

So sometimes finding outdoor gear and food can be challenging. I make the best effort I can at adhering to my ethics, though, and I’ll use this site to share my findings with you.

I also run. Roads, trails, the pond we live next to when it freezes over. Some of that will probably sneak in here, too.

By now you’re probably wondering what “12 in ’16” means. I can’t take credit for that — that’s all my boyfriend (who is far more creative than I have ever even hoped to be). He has this idea of having one major adventure each month this year (in addition to our regular adventures). Figuring out WordPress is turning out to be more of an adventure than I thought it would be but we are also hoping to spend a night or two at Mass Audubon’s Innermost House in Topsfield (MA) for our first adventure. We did this last March, and it was great, but my boyfriend (I really need to come up with a nickname for him) had a pretty bad cold and couldn’t fully enjoy our time there. So, new year, new adventure in Topsfield!

I hate blog posts that go on forever. Trying to curb my penchant for overwriting will be another ongoing adventure for me this year.