Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wild Card Weekend : : Mom Camp!

Anne McAllister is starting revisions this weekend. She hasn't looked at the book for two weeks and is hoping that time away will make All Things Clear. She'd appreciate it if you'd hope so, too. In the meantime, she's been busy with Mom Camp.

It's Mom Camp this week at our house.
This is quite possibly the best week of the year as far as I'm concerned.

It began five years ago when my oldest granddaughter was just out of first grade and therefore eligible to come to the local university's sports camp for the first time.

She and her mom came from Texas so she could be a day camper with her cousins. And while the kids were at camp, my daughter and I began the tradition of "Mom Camp." It's an idea whose time has definitely come.

This year there were four of us in the house having Mom Camp while the kids were at sports camp. My aunt came from Arizona for the second year in a row, and her granddaughter, an honorary mom camper, is here from college in Vermont. She's only missed one year of the five so far. This year we even have three day campers of our own.

What does Mom Camp entail?

Time for ourselves mostly. We relish that. But we also do stuff that we wouldn't normally do.
This year Mom Camp began with a lunch at Ella's Deli in Madison, Wisconsin -- followed by a merry-go-round ride. First time we've ever done that.

Then we visited my good friend, writer Maddy Hunter, while we waited for the second plane to land.

Mom Camp is fun -- and sometimes even challenging. Last year we tie-dyed t-shirts. This year we stamped and painted tote bags . As none of us can remotely be called "crafty" in the arts-and-crafts sense of the word, this is definitely out of our comfort zone. Yet we had a blast making interesting vegetable silhouette stamps and letting our Inner Creative Child (or what vestiges remain of her) out to play.

We baked -- a lot. We made two pies from my friend Elda's rhubarb delight recipe (the first got eaten so quickly that the leftovers we promised the kids were non-existent, so a second one was required).

We made pina colada scones (with fresh mangos and frozen non-alcoholic pina colada mix. Excellent stuff) and lemon yogurt tea bread and chocolate chunk cookies.

But the tour de force was the chocolate raspberry torte which was an ungodly amount of work, but which looked elegant and tasted sinfully delicious.

The trick, of course, is to eat it standing up so that the calories, my aunt claims, have nowhere to land!

We had a tea party with all this good stuff on Wednesday to which we invited friends and neighbors and for which we got out the historic family china and actually set a pretty nice looking table (I won't say elegant because I'm putting in a picture and as you can see bekiw, it's not that, but it's pretty decent.)

We watched movies -- Mamma Mia is a perennial favorite. It's not an official Mom Camp without Mamma Mia. This year we also had another great fave -- episodes of Wonderfalls -- especially the talking cow creamer one. And we finished up with Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day because it's hard to think about bright fun films set in the midst of The Blitz, but Miss Pettigrew manages to pull it off.

We read books (Susanna Kearsley's newest, The Rose Garden, several Trisha Ashley books, some J.D. Robb, a Kate Walker and a Liz Fielding, and for a real change of pace, Wyoming mystery writer, C. J. Box).

We had a slide show. Not scenery. Not vacation pictures. I was showing off CoolIris to my cousin and my aunt was entranced by my 972 pictures of Raoul Bova (Well, goodness. Such excellent hero material has to be shared).

We cooked -- everything from tikka masala to prime rib to split pea soup to caribbean chicken salad. And waffles. Every morning those kids wanted waffles, and my daughter humored them, bless her heart.

We walked dogs. We played on the Wii. I'm well out of the ski-jump competition, but last I looked I was still in the top ten in soccer ball heading and I'm first in the balance board.

We laughed and talked and reminisced. We told family stories and laughed some more. We grew misty-eyed remembering loved ones no longer with us. And we laughed again, remembering the joys of sharing their lives.

It was not all wonderful. We had an Act of Dog involving a stray cup of tea and a badly placed computer. We have a new MacBook in the house as a result -- and a cautionary tale that will doubtless be passed down in Mom Camp lore for years to come. The fact that it happened at Mom Camp at least made it tolerable.

We love Mom Camp as much as the kids love sports camp (maybe more). It brings us together every year, cementing bonds, telling old stories, making new memories -- and laughing.

If you've never had a Mom Camp, give it a try. I bet you'll be glad you did.

Anne McAllister's last book was Hired by Her Husband, the story of George Savas, from Harlequin Presents.

The next, The Night that Changed Everything (which incidentally happens to be the night that Demetrios Savas married Princess Adriane (aka Anny) in The Virgin's Proposition) is the story of Nick Savas and Edie Daley. It will be out in the autumn from Mills & Boon Modern and Harlequin Presents Extra.


  1. Great post about Mom Camp - what fun!!

  2. No matter how old you are, you can't go wrong with a trip to Ella's Deli! Just took two of my nieces there a couple weeks ago. One had been ten years ago, when she was 10, and she enjoyed it just as much as the 6-yr-old.

  3. Karen, yes, it was a blast! Try it sometime.

    Heather, you are so right. We have been going to Ella's Deli since my kids were little. It's always a treat.

  4. You absolutely HAVE to post the recipe for the pina colada scones!!!

  5. Once again Mom Camp sounds so much fun - I so wish I could have joined you! Even with the Act of Dog. (Sid says what can you expect with D-o-g-s? - was that Mr Mitch?)

    But I'm honoured to have been there in 'spirit' - or at least in pages in the shape of one of my books. There is plenty of rhubarb to make the rhubarb delight in our garden - what to come over and use it up for me? And bring some pina colada scones please.

    PS I Have no idea why the PHS blog now refuses to acknowledge me as a Google account - but it is me - honest!


  6. Scarlet,
    I will put the recipe for the pina colada scones on my own blog on Monday. Promise! They are really good.

    Kate, I know what you mean. Google doesn't always seem to know who I am, either. Or if Google does, PHS doesn't. Anyway, yes, you were here in spirit, and I hope you can make it for real some day. I would love to come and make Elda's Rhubarb Delight from your rhubarb. Sounds like fun. And I'd be delighted to make pina colada scones to go with it.

    We've had an amazing week in cooking/baking terms. Everything turned out great. I'm now exhausted and must get to work on revisions, which I'm hoping will be restful!

  7. Scarlet, The recipe is up on my blog. Go to and you should be able to get it.