unplugged

I recently returned from a trip back to New York. We arrived in Queens, amid the usual insane driving and traffic, loud noises and … well, it’s New York. I had just completed a big design project and needed some down time. But I couldn’t relax. I took work calls and dealt with client issues. I seethed about the road and hated on the people. I was trying to have fun, but finding it challenging.

After a few days in the city, our plan was to go to the Catskills to Boy Scout family camp, a tradition started when my man was a boy himself that we continued with our own family during our fours years living in New York City.

Mushroom at Boy Scout Family Camp

Family camp is located on Lake Nianque, about two hours northwest of New York City. It houses about 20 rustic cabins that families rent for a week or more during the summer. Many families have been going the same week every year for decades. The waterfront is run in traditional Boy Scout fashion: everyone takes a swim test, gets a buddy tag, and must always swim or boat with a buddy during designated swimming and boating hours. While this might sound like a draconian system, it feels the opposite. With structure comes freedom. I glimpsed the kids sporadically on their way to and from whatever they were doing—sometimes carrying towels, sometimes with nets for catching critters—but I never worried.

Buddy Board at Boy Scout Family Camp

There is no cell phone service at Family Camp: no email, no voicemail, not even texts. Unconnected in nature feels like paradise. I finally relaxed.

We canoed the Delaware River. All without thoughts of email, instagram, and snapchat. I couldn’t even check the weather. (Turns out, if you go outside you can pretty much figure out what the weather is like.) We fished. We swam. I napped. Sure, the kids spent time in their bunks playing games on their iPods. But without internet their attention turned to other things and they were soon back outside catching frogs, newts, snakes and turtles. Or fishing. Or swimming. All good stuff.

Fishing on Lake Nianque at Boy Scout Family Camp

Worm on a hook

Catching bass on Lake Nianque

I missed the news headlines, and the latest national shooting tragedy. I’m sure there will be another and I’ll read all about it in my news feed. For now, I’m trying to hold onto that relaxed feeling that there is nothing for me to do. Boredom is a rare luxury in the information age.

Dusk on Lake Nianque at Boy Scout Family Camp

Below are several interesting perspectives on unplugging:

7 Important Reasons to Unplug and Find Space

Kids on Screen-Time Diet Lost Weight and Got Better Grades

The Pointlessness of Unplugging

Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often

Limiting screen time improves sleep, academics and behavior, ISU study finds

 

Buying a new home is hard and other luxury problems

I’ve played the hermit crab this spring, retreating to my shell… mostly because I’ve been convalescing (read: sleeping 9+ hours a night) after a compression fracture of my L1 vertebra during some Xtreme sledding in early winter. (Sledding is now off the approved activities list btw.) Throughout my recovery, I have been keeping busy, though—looking for a {READ MORE}

(gift)wrapped up

Each holiday season I brainstorm ideas for Christmas gift wrapping. A few years ago I wrapped gifts using kraft paper and stamps, which was tactile and festive. This year, I’m not sure yet what I’ll do. I’ve been collecting pine cones and evergreen twigs… maybe something will materialize out of them. I’ve seen many cool and beautiful wrapping ideas {READ MORE}

Nawlins

I recently returned from a graphic design conference in New Orleans. What a gritty, smelly, inspiring, beautiful city! And people are super friendly. I’m so glad I got a chance to go there. Old meets new in New Orleans—in architecture, tourism and music. My favorite places were the Little Flea Nola, Magazine Street, the cemeteries, Cochon Restaurant and Mardi {READ MORE}

The Uninspired Designer

I just got back from a graphic design conference. The conference was titled, “Revival.” That is exactly how I feel after four days of rousing talks, spirited roundtable discussions, and a lack of immediate client demands: refreshed, renewed, revived. While at the conference, a client inadvertently sent me a long email thread in which she said I was “uninspired.” While {READ MORE}

egg shell herb starts

While it has been a warm winter and early spring out west, in the northeast we’ve suffered a cold, long winter. But the sun is finally shining and the birds are singing their sweet songs. Hello, Spring! Now that temps are consistently above 40 degrees and the fear of frost is over, it’s time to {READ MORE}

easter egg tree

Happy Easter! I made glitter eggs in anticipation of the Easter holiday. I considered the best way to display these sparkly puppies… a cylindrical glass vase or a low-rimmed bowl would work. But I was inspired by a friend’s “egg tree” and decided that was definitely the way to go. If you’re hanging around feeling jittery after eating your kid’s {READ MORE}

glitter easter eggs

Our Easter tradition is to visit my family in California. Northern California is spectacular in the spring. The verdant hills glow with new growth and smell like luscious damp dew in the mornings. The temperature (low 70s) feels perfect. And I don’t have to cook anything while there except egg salad for Easter lunch. Yum! My girls and I haven’t {READ MORE}

wreath evolution

Growing up, my mom had a little cave-like space off the garage that she used to create wreaths and sprays (non-circular wreaths, basically). She spent hours at a time messing around with dried plants, her clippers, metal wire and a hot glue gun. My mom and a couple of lady friends would put on an annual holiday “boutique” {READ MORE}

spoon butter

I got a fancy new Montana-shaped cutting board from my man for Xmas. I love it, but the wood seemed a bit dry and vulnerable to the kitchen elements. So I did a little research and found a recipe for spoon oil. Spoon oil (or spoon butter) is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil used to treat and {READ MORE}