Sneak Peek at Chapter three of luxury tent #camping book

Still pushing, pushing, pushing to get get the book design finished. Ericka is finishing up Chapter three and I think it is my favorite chapter! Each chapter in the book is set up to showcase a specific style and camping group. Chapter one is very romantic, the most girlie look in the book, and it’s geared for a couple not quite ready for a full camping experience. Chapter two is very modern and focuses on designing around a single bold color. The gear is perfect for a single person camping alone or with a group. Chapter four shows how to design around a theme, in this case a decade, but it could as easily be a favorite tv show or a hobby. The chapter shows a family camping together and the tips and suggestions are family friendly.

But chapter three? Oh chapter three, you are lovely. The chapter shows a couple camping together but the look is more tailored, with a hint of safari. It’s a perfect mix of luxury and melding in with your surroundings. Like the rest of the book, it’s also very practical. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the pages from chapter three.

The next update should be three possible cover art designs which only my Kickstarter backers are able to vote one. Which ever one they pick is the one that will be the cover for my book. After all, they’re the ones who made this book possible.


#FreeBooks to read during the long weekend – #camping

Looking for a few books to read during the long Thanksgiving weekend? Here are a two you might enjoy, but grab them now while they are free to download. (Also – you don’t need a Kindle to read a Kindle book, just download the free reader app)


Following The Front Wheel West…
By J.D. Hodges
In the summer of 2013 I took a dream motorcycle ride across the country. This is a journal that I kept while making that trip.


Camping with President Roosevelt
By John Burroughs
Review by Painter Dave: Written by a close friend of President Teddy Roosevelt, this book gives you a look at the real man, the way he thought, the love of the outdoors, and the love of people who lived in the outdoors. If you appreciate the Wilderness in American, the Parks and mountains, then you will enjoy a book about the man who helped make them possible. Kindle has made many of these books about Roosevelt available and this is one of the best. See Yellowstone before it became what it is today, and enjoy it with the President.



Double Duty – Shower Caddy to Camp Kitchen Organizer

One of the things I try to stress to people when we talk about making camping more comfortable and attractive is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Just look around your home and you’ll find beautiful, well made camping gear. One example I’d like to show show is this shower caddy. Most of the year it can hang in my shower holding my shampoo and conditioner at the ready. But it lives an adventurous, secret life as a camping kitchen organizer with the help of a handy tree and a hammer and nail.  This is just one of the tips I’m including in my book Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Camping, coming out next month.



Sneak Peek at Chapter 2 of Field Guide to Luxury Tent #Camping #glamping

The book, Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping,  is really moving along now and it looks like we’ll have a proof copy in our hands on December first. Then we check for typos (because there’s always typos) and print quality, make final changes, and BAM! it’s ready to send out.

I’m continuing to reshoot any product shots that may be legally problematic. I absolutely don’t want to infringe on anyone’s intellectual property rights (unethical!!!), but still feel the attorney is being overly cautious.  Better safe than sorry, though, right? As we just got our first snow – hopefully it melts right away – time is of the essence. In fact, I hope to wrap up all non-recipe shoots by the end of this weekend. Then I can do the recipe and cocktail shoots all at once (hmmm…maybe I should have a party? Why let good food and drinks go to waste) and call photography 100% done.

So what’s chapter 2 look like? That is why you’re reading this update, right?  Here are two pages from chapter 2. The first shows a product that not only works well and is attractively designed, it’s a product with a heart. The second page is one that reoccurs in each chapter and is called Elements of the Style. This is where I point out how you can achieve a similar look, but tailored to your tastes. Chapter two is a very modern and minimal look and these elements reflect that style.

Please let me know, truthfully, what you think of these pages. I’m looking for feedback as YOU are my target audience for this book.  As soon as chapter three is done, I’ll post more pages. We’re on the home stretch!

#Yaris Micro Camper Build: Step 2 #camping #DIY

There have been some starts and stops in the build, mostly as I try to figure out ways around my errors and choices, yet the build is going strong. I have the basic sleeping platform and table built and it works well. This is step two in the micro camper build and when it is finished, I’ll compile all the steps and posts into one long tutorial. Step 1 can be found here.



In step one, I cut 2 pieces of chip board* – a 32 inch by 48 inch piece in the back of the car and a 24 inch by 30 inch piece to fold out of the car so I can extend my legs when I sleep. There’s a raised lip on the hatch opening of the Yaris, so I’ll glue a third strip of wood to the bottom of of the larger main piece of the platform so the platform lays level and is supported. Otherwise, when I fold the leg platform out, the hinges will rip off.

Step Two (which is a few smaller steps)
I used wood putty to patch up any rough edges or chips or holes in the top of the wood, then painted all the wood with 3 coats of outdoor rated white paint. I could have sealed it with poly, and may still do so for the table top, but it didn’t appear to require it.

Next, using door hinges I bolted the two pieces of the sleeping platform together.  The door hinges and bolts cost $14.22




After that, I attached the telescoping, folding leg. It’s important to have a telescoping leg so your table/leg portion of the sleeping platform is supported even when you are on uneven ground. I went with one leg in the middle, you could go with two legs in the corners, that’s up to you. The leg cost about $22 through Amazon.



When the table/bed are not in use and it’s time to hit the road, it all folds flat into the back of my car. You’ll notice in the photo below that there are small holes dug into the small board under the two main platform pieces. This is so the bolts can sink down into the board when the platform is folded out. I’ll putty, smooth, and paint those so they are sealed up. Chip board needs to be 100% sealed or it will swell in damp or wet conditions.




Step three involves putting a headboard onto the front of the sleeping platform. That’s not something I had originally designed as part of this build, but after laying on the platform I realized how convenient it would be. And it’ll keep my pillows from sliding off the end.

* I used chip board because it was 1/3 the cost of solid wood and 1/2 the cost of plywood. There are pros and cons to using chip board. The pros are mainly cost. The cons are: not as smooth, you need to use nuts & bolts rather than screws because screws don’t hold well in chip board, swells more in damp/wet conditions.  

Sleeping warm when it’s cold #glamping #camping

A cashmere quilt tops this camp bed

A cashmere quilt tops this camp bed

My favorite time of year to camp is Fall. The changing leaf colors, crisp air and crackling camp fires, and smaller crowds are all part of the attraction. But Fall camping, especially in the upper Midwest, does have a serious challenge – staying warm at night.

While the day time temps can be a warm 65 degrees, at night it can drop down to the low 40’s. Or lower. If you camp in late Fall, as I will be doing this weekend, the night time temps dip below freezing. So what’s a glamper to do? Stay home?  No way!  Just follow these tips and you’ll stay warm all night long and get one of the best night’s sleep of the year.


  • Go to the bathroom right before bed. Don’t make your body expend energy trying to warm the pee in your kidneys and bladder.
  • Eat an energy bar before you go to bed. This provides extra energy to your body to produce more heat.
  • Wear silk long johns and wool or silk mittens, hat, and socks to bed. Or some type of synthetic like fleece. You’ll hear me say this a few time but DO NOT WEAR OR USE COTTON. Cotton soaks up moisture and then sucks the heat from your body.
  • Completely change all of your clothes from what you wore during the day. They may not seem damp to you, but they are. I know it’s cold in your tent and getting naked and putting on cold bed clothes doesn’t sound attractive, but this is important to do. Dampness is your enemy.
  • Use a smaller, lower ceiling tent. You want to be able to trap heat and create a micro-climate. If your tent is too big or the ceiling too high, that won’t happen.
  • Get your bed up off the ground. Use a cot or an airbed but do not put your sleeping bag or blankets on the floor of your tent. The cold ground will seep through your bedding and steal body heat.
  • Layer under and over. Put a wool blanket on top of your bed. Then layer insulating layers such as your sleeping bag or a synthetic comforter or thick fleece. Then your body. Then repeat the layers on top of you with the wool layer on top. If you know you chill easily, use more layers. If you get hot and start to sweat, remove layers but keep the wool on top. Wool keeps you warm even when damp, which often happens to your top layer of blankets. It’s condensation from your breath during the night. DO NOT USE COTTON BLANKETS, SHEETS, OR COMFORTERS!
  • Do not cover your face with your blankets. If you put your blankets over your face your interior blankets (and you) will get damp and cold from your breath. Once that happens, you’re miserable for the rest of the night.
  • Use a bed warmer. This could be a willing partner, two people snuggling together are much warmer than sleeping alone. Or it could be a rock or brick heated at the edge of a fire. Just be sure to carefully wrap it up in wool so it never touches your flesh and tuck it down at the foot of your bed. It’ll radiate heat all night long. Some people use those chemical heater packs, but I’d caution against that as they can burn you when you roll on top of them. I have the same caution against electrical or gas tent heaters – that’s just asking for a fiery death or severe burns.

If you follow these tips you’ll be toasty warm all night. And the layers make such a warm nest that it encourages sleeping in. Or having some lazy morning nooky and then taking a nap. The leaves and hiking that trail can wait a few hours.


Sneak peek at Chapter 1

You: So, Cara, how’s the book going?
Me: Pretty freaking great, thanks for asking!

It’s been “interesting” at times (last week’s lesson in publishing your own book was an advanced course in Intellectual Property law. Yay?) but the project is firing on all cylinders. Ericka, the interior book designer, and I are one the same page – har, har – and she’s started the design for chapter 2. Chapter 1 looks amazing! I’m so pleased with how it looks and the emotional feel of the design. But why talk about it when I can show you!

Sample spread from Chapter 1 
Sample spread from Chapter 1

Chapter 1 is the most “fluffy” of all the chapters, but it’s a good way to ease into the idea of luxury tent camping. To get readers’ minds prepared to dream and be open to thinking about camping in a whole new way.  As other chapters are done, I’ll post more sneak peeks. I’ll also keep you up to date on how we face, and over come, new challenges.

My latest challenge came when I showed an attorney the first chapter. He flipped through it and then said, “You can’t use the photos on pages X, X, and X. Or well, any photo that shows a manufactured product.”

Wait….what? Those were photos I had taken of products I was reviewing in the book or were of things like, ummmm, tents. How do you show camping without showing a tent. Or a screwdriver on a table with a wine bottle? Or a lighter for the campfire?

I’ve been researching the basics of Intellectual Property (IP) law since I knew I’d be showing, and talking, about really good camping products in parts of my book. Mini product reviews. From what I could find, I should be in the clear as long as I took the photo, was showing and talking about the product as part of a review, and put in a disclaimer in the front of my book that I don’t have a relationship with the company, they own the rights to their copyright/trademark, etc. etc. etc.

The attorney begged to differ. He said that while, in the past, that may have been true, companies are getting more and more lawsuit happy anytime their product is mentioned or seen in any type of medium. Review blogs are being sued. Even when the review is favorable. Companies like TechCruch are getting ‘cease and desist’ letters for articles they have written that show a photo of the product they are talking about or the company’s logo. Not many of these IP lawsuits are winning, but a self-publisher/author like myself can’t afford the minimum $50,000 up front it would take for me to defend myself.

To make a very long, painful, and frustrating story short, we came up with a plan that would minimize, but can’t eliminate, my exposure to IP lawsuits. I’ll have the disclaimer in the front and the back of my book. About 1/8 of the photos are being reshot to show the product without showing the company. (OMG I need to beat the snow and hard freeze!) Logos are being removed in background items. For specific product reviews, I’m contacting the company and getting written permission to show their product. There are other things I’m doing, but you get the drift. Then, when the book is finished, I’ll need to have the attorney look over the book one more time.

This has been a learning process. This is just one example of the 101 things a self-publisher thinks s/he knew all about before s/he started the book, but really didn’t. I’ve been sharing the information on Intellectual Property with other authors so they can be better prepared before they take their first photo. After all, sharing is caring, right?

And that reminds me – anyone want to be my model for the outdoor portable shower shoot? It’s on the IP reshoot list and I’m sure it’ll be fun as all get out now that the temps are about 50 degrees during the day! 😉

New rain fly, new look

Hey tent glampers! Looking for that next step to make your campsite look spectacular?  Keep your tent, but change the rain fly. You can make your own (as I did here) or have someone make one for you. I won’t lie, making a rain fly isn’t the easiest project.  You either have to make your pattern first, for a fitted fly, or drape and tack, for a rain fly that is closer to a tarp.

However, the style advantages may be worth it to you. You can pick your own fabric or even paint your rain fly. Just be sure to choose a material such as canvas, silk, or tent grade nylon and seal it well. Really, really well. I’ve included the tutorial for a fitted DIY rain fly in my book, Martinis & Marshmallows: A Field Guide to Luxury Tent Camping.

Standard VS Custom

Standard VS Custom

Above you can see the standard rain fly for my tent vs the new one I made. The old rain fly isn’t not bad, just kind of blah. I love my new rain fly. So much more cheerful. I love waking up and seeing those colorful squares making beautiful patterns on my white comforter. It was a bit of a pain to make and I’ve had to make some adjustments to it (and spray it with another layer of sealer) but it makes me happy just thinking about it. Plus, everyone knows which tent is yours.

If you want an easier rain fly to make, consider making one that is more like a tarp. Really lovely ones have been made from shabby chic style sheets and held in place by using alligator clips and rope. Similar to the photo below, but with something far more attractive than a plastic tarp.


Below is an example of what you can do to a tent with paint. These are fairytale/SCA style tents, but I’ve seen rain flys painted to look like the Death Star or a garden.


Example of painted tents

Example of painted tents

So what do you think? Would you paint your tent or rain fly? Or make a custom rain fly? Let know if you have already done this or are planning to do so for your next camping trip. Oh, and I’d love to see photos!

Tiny homes and glamping have much in common

I’m a fan of the Tiny Home Movement, which advocates living simply in smaller homes. As in 400 sq ft and smaller. A friend that I camp with, Laura Lavoie, lives with her husband and cat in a 120 square foot home. I’m not kidding. 120 sq ft. I have a tent with more square footage than that. Tiny homes are homes, though, and isn’t camping. Yet tiny homes and glamping have much in common – both demand really good design to find a way to make a small space comfortable, efficient, and attractive. When I’m looking for solutions and ideas to camping frustrations, the Tiny Home Movement is one place I draw inspiration. And now, it appears, some tiny homers may draw inspiration from me. And you.

Laura LaVoie's tiny home on a mountain in North Carolina

Laura LaVoie’s tiny home on a mountain in North Carolina

Laura Lavoie and Drew Odom, invited me to be on their podcast Tiny r(E)volution to talk about glamping, my book, and I made a special announcement. Oh, and some fun for you to join into on twitter, too. We discussed how hospitality and graciousness are infused in the glamping and tiny home communities. Both represent a push back against the idea that everything is disposable. Of course we go over tips and products, but it was a happily organic conversation that I think you’ll enjoy. Tiny housers can learn about glamping, glampers can learn about tiny houses.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Drew and Crystal Odom (and their daughter).

Drew and Crystal Odom (and their daughter).

The special announcement is towards the end of the podcast, but I can tell you about the fun we can have on twitter. Drew asked his listeners to post photos of their tiny bars on twitter and hashtag them #tinybar.  I know many of you do amazing bar set ups when you are camping, so post your photos with the hashtag, too. Mine is below.



Life in 120  Square Feet
Facebook page:

Tiny r(e)volution
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