What is Camp Mighty? These are the basics.

My travel mates and I and I arrived at our hotel after dark (which is anytime after 4:45 in Palm Springs) and found our rooms. I noticed that my roommate had already arrived (her gear was there brushed was not) and that the room was hipster paradise.

*photo from Ace Hotel’s website

The whole dang hotel was hipster paradise.

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The Ace Hotel is a mid-century, modern rustic hotel was converted from a retired Howard Johnson and an adjacent Denny’s. It is impossibly cool from top to bottom, inside and out. The Ace Hotel makes you feel cool like a rock star. It’s the perfect setting for Camp Mighty as you may need to pretend you’re a rock star and really good at everything to hang in a room brimming with (mostly) women who are rock stars and really good at everything. Bloggers, business women and/or badasses stacked to the rafters.

The first night brought a welcome party with nerdy pizza and salad. Team Mighty gave us a little ice-breaking Life List Bingo game to play. And open bar…which went a long way to making sure the evening was epic. It was totally epic. I think. It’s all a bit hazy. I do remember it ending in a nice, drunken soak in the Ace Hotel hot tub.

Good morning!

The next morning we gathered on the sunny, crisp patio for breakfast and more conversation. This patio was packed to the gills with beautiful, fashionable women of all sizes and ages. And styles. There was SO MUCH STYLE, y’all. It was like stepping into a live-in-person Mighty Closet on shuffle. Then we headed to the Commune to #gomighty and #gobing our faces off for two days.

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The speakers delivered messages of confidence, overcoming adversity (whether that be external or internal), perseverance, personal bravery, risk taking, and all sorts of other things to get us inspired. Afternoons contained workshops and I even got to do a craft! The camp contained TWO Sheri’s, both with one R. The other one wrote a great post on Maggie Mason’s talk. Camp also contained lots of lovely ladies (and a smattering of men) with whom I had not only a good time but also forged friendships. And thank heavens for Twitter so that we can have some regular contact and interaction. I’m eager to see where we all are a year from now (besides, you know, at camp).

In the evenings there were social functions. The final evening was a nice, sit-down catered dinner with endless wine and endless conversation. The evening before, Friday night, was Space Camp. Oh, Space Camp…you were a good time.

And we danced. #campmighty #gobing

Festive decor, Tangtinis and dancing happend. So, so much dancing.

Dancing! #campmighty #gobing

And an animated gif photo booth. Because when there’s a Space Camp party, still images just won’t do.

The next camp post will be more specific and full of feeeeelings. Lots and lots of feelings. You’ve been warned.

A Mighty Brunch, Indeed.

This past Sunday I hosted a brunch to benefit Charity: Water. I’m heading out on Thursday to Camp Mighty and every camper is tasked with fundraising at least $200 for this charity so that the entirety of the campers can raise at least $20,000. Some people are selling wares or teaching workshops or drawing pictures. I decided to make 192 mini muffins and turn them into a tree.

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We made other things, too. Here’s the spread…

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Kale and apple salad with poppyseed dressing, truffled deviled eggs, breakfast casserole, bacon roasted potatoes, The Source of All Bacon, fruit salad, muffin topiary (almond, pumpkin and cardamom pear) and Thank You Toffee.

I asked one of my friends to shoot pics as I assumed I wouldn’t have the attention span to do so. He did. Not that his attention span is much better.

Here’s one of me and his very patient wife, Stacy…

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Here’s one of just Stacy looking at him like she does…

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Here’s one of him (Andy) that I hope that she captured…

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I’m getting off track.

So, I hosted a brunch and lots of my friends attended. I was a little self conscious and didn’t want the party to be too big, in case I failed at hostessing. Mostly I just invited besties, people who have held my hair as I partied too hard and people who know my snarky side. Or any combination of above.

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Not a bad turnout, I say.

Greg and Moran came and brought their cherub of a son, Dashiel. Here he is with our fur baby, Shiro.

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Behind them you can see Dash’s mom alongside Casey and Marek. I think Marek is maybe driving the convo somewhat.

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My sweet puppy tried to scam my good friend, Megan, on whom Shiro could probably smell “total sucker for dogs.”

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My lovely beau, Clayton, offered his scrumptious breakfast sandwiches made fresh to order. Here’s a sample… Toasted sourdough spread with spicy mustard, topped with arugula, cilantro, bacon, sauteed onions and jalapenos…with an egg over easy. Or as I like to call it, “The Reason I am With That Guy.”

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There were endless Mimosas.

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Very adjacent to the donation bowl.

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And anytime a big, crystal bowl is at a party…someone has to make this joke:

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I love my friends. Thanks, guys, for helping me make my goal and giving me a most excellent send off to Camp Mighty. See you on the flip side!

P-Dub!

I can’t believe the miracle of Ree’s invitation being for a Saturday when my kids were gone on vacation and my boyfriend was busy working and my house wasn’t having a tantrum. She told me to be sure to bring a friend and I called up my aunt who almost peed herself when I told her where she was headed on Saturday. It was a wonderful drive up and a (bleary) wonderful drive home as we got really good and caught up on life.

We got lost, of course, because I thought I could remember how to get there even though I’d never come in from the east side of the ranch. Upside, I got to meet Walter briefly as we stopped at the main house.

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Shortly after we arrived cooking class commenced. Rebecca from Foodie with Family was our teacher and she bestowed upon us three new items for our kitchen: Fresh Mozzarella, Braided Semolina Bread and Roasted Red Pepper Jam.

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I volunteered to work up a batch of boccaccini, which are little mozzarella balls. I figured turning milk into cheese would be strenuous but getting cheese into cute little balls would be a cinch. It was opposite. Overall, though, it was a surprisingly simple procedure. From the time the gallon of milk was open until we had a finished ball of cheese was 30 or 45 minutes.

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TOTALLY making a homemade pizza with the kids from complete and total scratch sometime soon. Realized this morning that in Oklahoma right now we can source every single ingredient locally, too.

I’ve made a lot of bread in my life, but it was cool to pick up a new recipe and learn about a couple of ingredients I haven’t ever heard of or thought to use. Malt powder instead of sugar and whey instead of milk/water. (Many, many, MANY whey jokes were made, too.) Rebecca pointed out early on that whey contained a lot of protein and she uses every drip of her leftover whey in all sorts of kitchen projects.

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Roasted Red Pepper Jam was made AND canned like a boss!

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Just like last time on the ranch, it was an unbelieveably awesome day. Last July was a macaron lesson and a food styling/photography lesson. Notice last year’s photos were much prettier… Last year was more of a meditative day as we focused on our cameras and our French sweets. This time was more lively and chatty, likely because all the women there knew each other from the blogger universe. I was a stranger but it was so much fun to meet so many new people at once. In the evening before dinner, we loaded up for cattle gathering.

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That’s Marlboro Man getting Georgia squared away on her horse.

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She’s probably in this pic, too. MM and kids rounded up some cattle that were being picked up by a shipper. They bravely let three horseback bloggers at a time tag along on the round ups (there were two).

Ree posted a lovely recap of the ride: Chocka Mocka Locka Wocka

Afterwards, we rode back to The Lodge for dinner, convo and goodbyes.

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Ree asked me that night who “Ninny” was to me after we explained where she fit in my family. She’s my dad’s sister, technically. But she’s our matriarch who organizes family dinners and makes sure that her brother gets all his doctor appointments scheduled and attended. She’s my kids’ grandma as my mom has been gone since I was 14. She’s my aunt and I can talk to her freely without any of those Mom politics I often hear others speak of. And she’s my friend. I was thrilled to be able to bring her to meet a woman she admires.

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Captain lame-o

There are a gazillion things I want/need to attend this week that become more and more fleeting as the deadline for being totally packed nears. If you’re in Oklahoma City, please consider attending one or more events on my wish list:

Rose Party at The Wedge on Western
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Delicious pizza and antipasto, best patio in OKC (I call it OKC’s backyard) and loads of lovely pink wine to sample. Drink pink and enjoy the summertime pastime that the French have bogarted for hundreds of years.
**Update: I caved and went to this. Was fun and the kids had a blast. There were other kids running around the “backyard” and I had to drag my sweaty-headed son out of there. You should join us next year!

Rotary Conference for District 5750 – Thursday through Saturday

Okay, this may not be for the masses, but if you’re a Rotarian in Central Oklahoma you need to pick one of the many events of this year’s district conference. Thursday night is my favorite as it is held the former OKC Museum of Art, which is now a private residence. If I can AT ALL finagle my schedule, I’m stopping by this with my kids for a quick dinner and a walk around the mansion.

K.C. Clifford’s CD Release Concerts – Friday & Saturday Night @ The Blue Door

She’s an Oklahoma treasure and a very lovely friend. These are the last shows she’s playing in Oklahoma City before Baby Broyles makes her arrival. Her new CD called The Tag Hollow Sessions is my new favorite of hers. I’ll write more on the CD later but one special thing I noticed was I think the banjo(y) was added in my honor. As KC often quips, “I’m the most exciting person I know.” 😉 Rewatching that video has convinced me I must be at one of the shows. ::sigh::

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Yes, another specialty event. I’m usually all, “Pshaw. Like I need to go hang out with people from high school on non-anniversary years,” but over the last year or two Facebook has allowed me to better know those people. Some of those people are a lot like me and I’m interested in hanging out with them over a few beers on Saturday afternoon. We may not have been besties 17 years ago, but now almost all of us are 36 and married/divorced/parents and that’s a lot to have in common. Two (possibly more) are in from out-of-state and I’m bummed to miss it. But I probably will miss it because my new house will be stacked to the ceiling with boxes, there’s a luncheon at my Rotary conference that I want to attend, my daughter will be at a late-morning laser tag birthday party, I need to go to KC’s show that night and DAMMIT, I am only one woman.

New friend boot camp

Pulled from the archives of a previous blog. Originally published May 24, 2008.

Wanna know how to get a fast-track to a new friend? Poland.

It worked for me.

Before we left for this Polish adventure I knew that I would probably get along okay with Megan. Not great, but okay. Who knew that once we got over there we would discover that we were practically the same person with the major differences of:

She plays soccer.
I can drink her under the table.
She reads way, way more.
I’m funnier.

Traveling for a month with women can be a little difficult. And by difficult, I mean it is like crawling naked for thirty miles across a field of rock salt that is wedged perfectly under a thunderstorm of elephants hovering in the sky 8 inches above your crouched, sweaty body. Of course I don’t mean that. Of course not.

It is worse.

The elephants are schizophrenic and have diarrhea and the salt is laced with poison ivy. And scabies.

The gleeming treasure in the whole experience is that sometime in that first week I realized that I had a soul sister among us. I was getting along with everyone nicely and them with me, but at some point Megan and I realized the magic. Actually, I realized the magic in Mikov when we went back to the flat to have a nap. It is awkward sharing a bed with someone you don’t know that well, but you can do it in the dark at night without much trouble. Exhaustion gives way to weirdness and it all works out. But there we were, crawling into bed together in broad daylight for an unexpected opportunity to nap.

Sheri: Goodnight.
Megan: Goodnight.
Sheri: Please don’t spoon me.
Megan: ::::spoons Sheri:::::
Sheri: “And I can’t fight this feeling anymore…”
Megan: “I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for…”
Sheri: “It’s time to bring this ship into the shore…”
UNISON: “And throw away the oars, FOREVER!”

That clinched it. We eventually fell asleep, but not before laughing hysterically for 20 minutes.

As the month wore on we experienced Poland in all its glory (not sarcastic) and there’s an upcoming post about Poland as a country and experience. Trust me. But there’s another facet of my trip across the pond and it is of finding a friend in surprising circumstances. That is this story. This is that story. Meg-aaan rocks. How do I know for sure that she rocks?

When we were halfway through our trip we had to carefully consider our luggage. We were traveling too heavy and there were rumors that if we were over a certain amount at the Lviv, Ukraine airport that Bad Things Would Happen. Terrible overcharges and possibly random assasinations of character. And scabies.

So she and I are sitting at our hotel in Krakow having breakfast (tomatoes, anyone?) and talking about what we are ditching in Lviv to save space and weight. The subject of our red blazers came up. They are our uniform and we were already resenting their very existence. Plus, the coats were heavy. We spoke of burning them.

Then I had an idea.

Capes. We would fashion capes from them. With cuffs. We simultaneously made jazz hands and the bond between M and S grew stronger. Two weeks later:

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With 2 inch scissors and a pair of nail clippers, we became superheros.

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Sorry for the fuzzy. Apparently Ukraine is so deficient as a country that the the air zaps the ability for cameras to focus properly. Luckily, another team member shot this little gem:

And then this one:

And that’s how I knew we’d be friends outside of Poland. Blazer capes.

The brown bird made me fly

Because we aren’t people who let two unused hours lie idly on a Monday evening, we headed to El Reno a few weeks ago to check out a band that our friend Geoff brought to town for a Rotary fundraiser.

Brown Bird!

Brown Bird!

Here’s a general idea of what they sound like but, really, the song doesn’t do justice to what you hear when sitting before the giant, giant sound of these two people.

Here’s a snip of a review of their latest album, Salt For Salt: “Recorded live to tape in Pawtucket, RI, “Salt For Salt” is the first album by Brown Bird to capture the intense energy of the duo’s live show, surging in waves that often swell into high-spirited, foot-stomping madness. David Lamb’s lyrics are as well-written as they are emotionally intelligent, thankfully avoiding the pitfalls of the wish-wash known as “modern-folk” or “singer-songwriting”. Lamb and his partner MorganEve Swain write simply, and the record is eerily sparse at times – a tambourine, a bass drum and the cello often the sole accompaniement to Lamb’s (what a name) cracked, wood-smoke voice.”

Yeah, I’d agree with that. They are folksy with an Eastern European thread weaving through a rootsy sound that is American more than anything. By the end of the performance David Lamb’s voice seized my attention in a way that had me whooping and hollaring like I was at a stadium show — and at a stadium show we were not. Apparently  Monday nights in downtown El Reno are not the hotbed attraction and it was poorly attended. I wasn’t sad that I didn’t have to share Brown Bird with a couple hundred people, though it would have been awesome for Rotary and Brown Bird to have been better compensated for their efforts. Because both efforts were outstanding.

Here’s a bit they did with MorganEve’s brother that was perhaps the most exciting thing I’ve seen this year. Wow! At the end of the video you can hear someone in the background say, “That was amazing.” That voice is my boyfriend, Clayton. The enthusiastic videographer is our friend Blake who we met through Turntable.fm and who was the person who introduced Clayton to Brown Bird.

One more for the road that Blake filmed through some geeky, swanky app on his iPhone…

Sheri’s First Rally

I went to my first rally today in protest of our own piece of Personhood law making it’s way around the Oklahoma legislature. It was an emotional day and there have been some emotional weeks leading to today’s events. I can’t wax too poetic….I’m an expert on nothing but my own heart, and even then I’m inconsistent. But I was compelled to show my face at the capitol today. I’ve been reading this piece of legislation and other pieces that seem to be pushing the radical right agenda and I am frustrated. Oklahoma is a loving, beautiful place and I am embarrassed that things like this are being pursued by my government. Have your morality and beliefs. Keep them. In your churches and your communities. But leave them out of my government. And my body. And my daughter’s body. And the bodies of my girlfriends and their wives and her sister’s and her cousin’s and….and….and…

Embarrassment and frustration aside, today was positive because I learned that I am not an island. There are others and they are every shape, sex, age and color. I also got to hear this in person today:

 

Also, here’s a bit of a highlight reel:

 

Jam Night #1

I have this friend. His name is Jacob.

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He is one of my best friends. Through the years we’ve discovered that each other is awesome in a unique but very complimentary sort of way and it’s been lovely. The other day I got a Facebook invite that simply told us recipients, “Bring your instruments. Let’s have some beverages and play some music.” A few days later his wall post asked, “Can anyone play the harmonica?” Then shortly after he updated the event wall with, “We have a confirmed cellist.”

This was getting exciting for a Friday night in my world.

Young Jacob (his very unnickname from me) was the only soul I knew at the jam. But I packed up my horribly out of tune guitar and my camera. There were several hiccups in my planning. The largest was I hadn’t played my guitar in a year. Also, my flash’s batteries were dead, dead, dead.

Oh well. I remind you again, The Video.

I met some interesting people.

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I met some interesting dogs.

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Indeed there was a cellist. And a singer/songwriter/science teacher. And many other musicians, wannabe musicians and just people who came for a good time. Beers were drank, cajons were thumped and songs were sang. Dreams came true. It was beautiful.

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I totally meant for this pic to look like that. Way, way on purpose.