Category Archives: Adventure Planning

5 recipes for turning fresh snow into an icy treat

I didn’t’ grow up in a place where it snowed, but luckily my Grandparents lived in an icy wonderland. Every winter we’d make the trek to their house at least once, tie plastic bags around our feet and head out into the snow. Every trip was accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate and a ‘snow cone’. I remember the snow cones being this amazing delicacy that only my Grandma could make.

A few years ago I asked her for her secret recipe. Her reply: 1 heap of snow and a handfull of sugar. That’s it? I tried it one year. It wasn’t as delectable as it had been to my childhood self.

So I came up with a few of my own recipes. I make these à la carte style. I have a big bowl of snow and all the toppings lined up and let my kids pick out whatever they want me to mix in. (more…)

DIY: Convert your bike trailer into a ski trailer

We’re pretty cheap, or rather, ‘thrifty’. So when winter came around a few years ago and we wanted to pull our chariot around in the snow, we opted not to buy the official conversion kit, but rather build our own.

First, we rented the official version, skied around for a day, then came up with our own plan. To be honest, we actually like our version better than the real deal. Why? Allow me illustrate.

1. If you leave the wheels on you have a bigger range of motion and can go over stuff like this (photo below). 2. If you make your own you can use fatter skis, that means better performance in powder (photo below).






Or maybe we’re just trying to make ourselves feel better about being ‘thrifty’?

At any rate, here is a step by step guide on how we converted our chariot into a skiing machine. Note: Hold your mouse over the photos for explanations. (more…)

Best. Hiking food. Ever.

Back in September Lindsey took me on a hike for my birthday.  The hike was wonderful for so many reasons:

1)  I got to spend six uninterrupted hours with Lindsey.  We never worried about getting eaten by a mountain lion–we blathered and laughed loud enough to scare away every bit of wildlife within 45 miles.

2)  We got to hike down in the dark, by full moon, and it was exhilirating.

3)  She brought us ‘dinner’ for the top.  While snuggled into a rock shelter to stay out of the frigid wind, she pulled out a birthday brownie, complete with a candle and birthday song.  And she pulled out Chicken Puffs.  I have concluded that these Chicken Puffs are the tastiest possible hiking treat.  Comfort food in a ziploc baggie?  Yes, I think so.

I’ve since made them for my husband on his hunting trips and he concurs.

Rather than keep this yumminess all to ourselves, today we are sharing Lindsey’s Amazing Chicken Puff Recipe, complete with two variations on the theme.  Enjoy.

*** quick note:  Lindsey and I used butter croissant dough from the can… like Pillsbury or Great Value brand…  you could also use real puff pastry dough and cut it to the size you want***


Making an Olivia Bag (aka ‘survival kit’) for overseas travel…

Here’s a question from Sarah, a reader with great Christmas ideas:

I’m actually working on my Christmas stuff and had a quick question on your Olivia bag post. I’m making two of these for my sister and brother in law who live in Peru. They have four girls, all under 10. My brother in law routinely travels into the jungle, visiting villages along the way. I thought the Olivia bag would be a great Christmas gift since its practical and easy to take back. But I’m wondering how you would modify this for international travel/outdoors. Maybe there are some things that would be great additions to the bag for them that I can’t think of? And maybe some things can be eliminated or they might have problems in customs? 

What I love about this question is that the timing is SO PERFECT!  I’m travelling to Peru the beginning of November and (in my insane excitement) have already started packing!  It got me to thinking—could one put together an International list of multi-purpose items useful for travelling outside the country?

Here’s the thing:  international travel includes a huge range of activities, climates, cultures, and (ew) diseases.  Coming up with a universal set of items useful in all environs can be tricky…  but I’ve traveled to a few countries over the last 15 years, ranging from the relatively laid back New Zealand, to hot and humid China.  And believe it or not there are things that are useful in all hemispheres.

The key is that these items are related to the travel lifestyle:  moving, limited packing space, and being comfortable outside your comfort zone… they have less to do with the cuisine of the Maori or the species of mosquito in the Amazon, and more to do with you, and the fact that you are the same person, with the same needs, wherever you find yourself.  Also, I like items that serve multiple purposes, that aren’t especially expensive, so that you can give them away or ditch them if you decide you don’t need them after all.

Just like your Olivia Bag, any international bag needs to be modified to fit your needs.  But here’s what I intend to put in mine. (more…)

Tips for the beginning kayaker

Helena sent me this question (via ask outsidemom) a few months back, and I decided to keep her in suspense for awhile before responding. You know, just to keep things interesting… (sorry Helena)

I want to start kayaking but have never been before! The closest I’ve come is rafting. So my question is… what’s the best way to get started/learn, and when is it safe to take a child along? What age etc.?


First I asked Helena if she was interested in flat water kayaking or whitewater kayaking. Her reply: Well, we are a military family currently stationed in Florida. We will probably always be stationed near the ocean, so probably flat water.

Although come to think of it, I suppose the steps for starting out would be very similar no matter what kind of kayaking you’re looking to do. After all, as a whitewater kayaker, the first place I learned to paddle was on a big flat lake in northwestern Washington. For this reason I’m mainly covering flat water kayaking related issues.

1. Choose a boat (more…)

Going solo in the great outdoors… with kids

A reader recently submitted this question:

My hubby has poor health, but I *need* more outdoor time! Any tips for a mom and kids outdoors on their own? Mine are 7, 5, 3, and 2 mos. We live in beautiful western Oregon, but I have a thing for the SW.


Meaghan, thanks for this excellent question.  It’s something I deal with all the time as a stay-at-home-mom who is also an outside junkie.  I actually really like getting the kids out on my own.   I’m not much of a home body and getting the kids out for a hike or a trip to the lake always seems like a far better alternative than futzing around the house.  Our situations aren’t that different–I’ve got a 5-, 3-, and five-month-old.  Granted you’ve got an extra child, but let’s just call your oldest an extra ‘helper’.

Your style for getting outside with just you and them will be all your own, unique to your personalities and situation, but here are some random suggestions that might make getting out on your own easier.

PS rare photo of me (above) taken by my good friend and awesome photographer Rebekah.

1. Don’t psych yourself out.
It’s not as daunting as it sounds. One less adult can usually be mitigated with better pre-planning.  Remember always what your objective is.  To be outside?  See something new?  Have a wee adventure?

Figure out what you’re going for and ‘settle’ for doing only that thing.  When the kids cry or complain, when something goes awry, when you call it quits early, just remember your objective… “well, my goal was to get outside for awhile today, and we did it!”  Have that attitude in mind before you even leave the house and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to feel good about your solo trip from the moment you’ve locked the front door.

2.  Pre-Plan. (more…)

Keeping your feet dry: the delicate art of peeing in the woods

I once thought about making a photo blog called “Oh the places I’ve peed.” Nature can offer some pretty scenic restrooms!! Much better than the four walls your use to at home, and light years better than the experience you get from most public bathrooms.

If you read this blog I’m guessing you have no problem peeing in the out-of-doors. But I bet you know someone who does, it’s a pretty common hang-up for lots of women. If you do know such a woman, please send them this video.  I laughed when I watched it, only because I think Jessica (from is so awesome for actually making it.

And don’t worry, she’s wearing spandex…

Postpartum Mountain Biking – When to get back on the bike?

Note: this post contains words related to child-birth. If theses sort of words make you light-headed, please look at this post instead.

Shortly after every pregnancy I’ve opened up my laptop, pulled up the internet and typed in to the search bar things like “postpartum mountain biking”, “how soon can I mountain bike after pregnancy”, “mountain biking after delivery”, “getting back on my bike after vaginal delivery”, etc.

I never find anything. No testimonials, no words of wisdom, no pictorials. Nada. I am going to rectify that situation. This post is for all those new OutsideMoms looking to see when other Moms get back on their mountain bikes after the brutal event known as ‘giving birth’. (more…)

Three ideas for building your own bike rack

After a month of living in our new home we finally took the weekend to unpack and organize the garage. The biggest problem we faced was the number of bikes we own: 4 kid bikes, 4 adult bikes, 1 bike trailer and 1 trail-a-bike. After careful consideration 2 kid bikes we’re booted out to the shed but the remaining 8 contraptions needed to be accessible.

With all of us bike commuting every day and mountain biking whenever we get the chance we were in a constant state of bike piles. The garage looked like this, on a good day…

We wanted to build a bike rack, but had a few criteria. It needed to be 1. Cheap. 2. Easy to assemble. 3. Sturdy. 4. Adjustable. We found three viable options online (click links below for photos and instructions). Option 1 and 2 can even be made to fit in your truck bed.

  1. Rack made from PVC pipe.
  2. Rack made from 2×4’s and other assorted wood pieces.
  3. Rack made from pallets.

We chose option #1, the PVC pipe, but made the following modifications: (more…)

DeLorme topo maps: Essential for the outdoor traveler.

Since posting my article on dispersed camping a few days ago I’ve had quite a few questions on HOW one goes about finding places to camp on public land. Today I’m prepared to answer that question in the form of a gushing review of the DeLorme’s Atlas and Gazetteer series.

I’ll admit, when I started my review of these priceless books-of-maps, I couldn’t figure out why they went to the trouble of calling them “Atlas and Gazetteers”.  So fancy-schmancy… what was the point?  Being ever the resourceful one, I decided to find the answer.  I called Olivia.

“I dunno”  she informed me.  “Look it up.”

So I did.

Atlas: /’atles/  A book of maps or charts.
Gazetteer: /gazi’ti(Ə)r/   A geographical directory of places containing information on things like mountains, waterways, camping areas, historic markers, state and national parks, roads etc.


Put them together and that’s exactly what we have here:  A book of amazingly detailed, large-format topographic and informative maps.

Because Atlas and Gazetteer is too long to keep saying I will here-to-fore refer to these publications as A&G.

I’ve been a fan of this A&G series for a very very (very) long time.  It’s amazing how often we use these them. They go everywhere with us, they even have a permanent spot in the back of the van underneath the mat so that if we’re out of the house, so are they.

They provide information on camping, hiking trails, cities, and most importantly, back roads! And they have a version for all 50 states.

How do I use them?  Well, let’s take some hypothetical situations that (strangely) mirror real ones that may or may not actually happen on a regular basis. Here is a small portion from this sample page. (note the A, B, C correlations to the map). (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia