Friday, August 6, 2021

Just the Essentials: Secret Subject Swap


Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake, peanut butter infused Devil’s Food cake, filled and topped with a dense peanut butter frosting. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert

Welcome a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously   divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.






My subject is: You're going on a weekend camping trip. What are five things you can't leave home without?
It was submitted by: Rena of Wandering Web Designer and Technology Therapist.

That completely depends on where I'm going and what kind of camping I'm doing. Back in the day, long before I was married, I camped. Actually camped, with a tent and a sleeping bag, and not much else. Not often, but now and then. This was way, way, back in the day. When I could actually sleep on the ground without fear of ending up in traction. 
Not so, these days. For me to even think about it at this point, it would be more along the lines of glamping. I'm talking bed with sheets, ceiling fan, mini fridge, bathroom with jacuzzi . . . You know, the kind of camping where you say you're leaving home to go enjoy nature and then you basically take home with you.

But hypothetically, were I to go more old school camping these days, there are a few things I would not be without. You'd think my must-haves would be practical, like a waterproof liner to keep out the rain, or matches to start a fire, or an option to canteens that make water taste like metal (yeah, it's been that long since I camped). Or possibly my choices would be for comfort like an air bed (oops, gave both of them along with the pump and the sheets to my son in Colorado who has a 1 bedroom condo and lives in a state friends like to visit).
Although those do sound great, my choices are a bit different, all based on lessons learned from a few of the times I did camp.
Just the Essentials | graphic designed by and property of | #MyGraphics #humor

The first thing I'd take is a heavy blanket. And no, not for sleeping. 
I was with a boyfriend camping on Martha's Vineyard one summer over a long weekend. Our tent was small, but there was so much to do on the island we didn't spend much time in it. We'd be at the beach most of the time during the day, come back to rest for a while, change and then go out and be gone most of the night.

Something funny happened, that first night after I'd gone into the tent to change my clothes. Every time my boyfriend walked away, like to go to the men's room or walk down to the lake, other men would come over to talk. People in campgrounds were often friendly but for men only to come over, and only when my boyfriend walked away, that was weird.

Our last night there, my boyfriend was coming back towards the tent and I was inside changing my clothes. What he told me solved the visiting men mystery. When it was dark outside and I had the flashlights on in the tent to see while I was changing my clothes, I was basically putting on a bit of a porn show. Duh. So yeah, item #1, I'd take a heavy blanket to drape around the tent when I changed.

My next choice is not practical, not even usable in many campgrounds, and based solely on vanity. I had been camping the following summer, with the same boyfriend. We were at a campground that was a step up from the one on the Vineyard. They actually had a fully functioning bathroom with showers, changing rooms, large mirrors, and even electricity. I hadn't known this in advance.

In that bathroom I was shocked to run into a friend I hadn't seen since high school. She (and everyone else there) was obviously smart enough to know about the amenities provided in the campground. She looked amazing as she pulled the cord of her hair drying out of the socket. She was dressed to go out that night, make up done and hair beautifully styled. I was dressed to go out that night too, looking like a drowned rat. Possibly a homeless drowned rat.

So yeah, the second thing I'd bring along would be beauty supplies, including a hair dryer. Just in case.

Third and fourth would be suntan lotion and bug spray. It's hard to sleep standing up, and laying down with a sunburn just isn't an option. Take my word for it. And sleeping with mosquitos buzzing in your ear doesn't work well either. Spending the next day scratching until you look like you have leprocy is another vacation downer.

The very last time I went camping was a different experience altogether. This was with a subsequent boyfriend, and we were going with all of his friends, something like 7 other couples. We'd have our tents put up in a circle around the fire pit. Each couple would be in charge of something to bring along for the group. One couple even brought a picnic table. We had food, drink, music. I was in charge of desserts, and since we'd be supplied with munchies inducing entertainment {{wink, wink}}, I brought a few. Cookies, Blondies, and a Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake, peanut butter infused Devil’s Food cake, filled and topped with a dense peanut butter frosting. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert
Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake, peanut butter infused Devil’s Food cake, filled and topped with a dense peanut butter frosting. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dessert
You'd think that this would be a most fun camping experience and honestly, it started out that way. We ate and drank and talked and smoked and laughed. 
Until the second night.

Oh, they all continued the festivities that second night, I put up as good a front as I could, but I was no longer having fun. Something had changed for me and I was both exceedingly uncomfortable and too embarrassed to get myself to talk about it in front of my boyfriend's entire group of friends. In fact, to this day that former boyfriend himself doesn't know.

But I had it, folks, and I knew it. A dreaded, unbearable, squirm around 'cause you can't sit still yeast infection. And this was not only in the middle of the night, way out in the woods, but it was at a time when the treatment was by prescription only.

There are some experiences that change us forever.
Which brings me to the 5th item I just won't go camping without, my final essential.


American Express? I can get by if it's left behind. But Vagisil? Don't leave home without it.


Secret Subject Swap, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics 

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Wandering Web Designer 


What TF Sarah 

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Baking In A Tornado signature | | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Peanut Butter Poke Cake        

Printable Recipe

1 TBSP baking cocoa
1 box Devil's Food Cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup peanut butter

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
2/3 cup milk
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
3 TBSP chocolate syrup

*Grease a 9 X 13 cake pan and flour it with the baking cocoa. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Beat the cake mix, eggs, milk, oil and 1/4 cup peanut butter for 2 minutes. Pour evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Cool completely.
*When the cake is completely cooled, poke about 40 holes into the cake with the round bottom of a wooden spoon. Don't poke all the way to the bottom of the pan.
*Beat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter with the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Place into a piping bag or a gallon sized plastic bag (snip the corner). 
*Fill the holes in the cake with the peanut butter frosting, then frost the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Drizzle with the chocolate syrup and swirl the syrup into the frosting.


  1. I don't camp, and reading about your experience, I remember why. In case I forgot. Ouch!
    I could get on board with visiting scenario #3 during the day, have fun with you guys, enjoy some choco/PB cake, and by the time the sun sets and the mosquitos show up, I'd say goodbye. How about that..?

  2. I RV’d with a Walmart close by.

  3. Laughed at each item and the reasons... But, that last one? Ohmyword, I'm squirming just reading this! I had something similar, only in that it happened whilst we were away from home and I had to find a pharmacy, but now I never leave home without my yeast cream of choice. Everyone is just happier. Oh, and Abreva. Pain is a good teacher...

  4. I tent camped into my 40's. We couldn't even put up a tent now, never mind traction. Did I tell you about the time we camped in a Army surplus canvas pup tent in a downpour, and the tent collapsed on us, and we spent the rest of the night in the campground bathroom (fortunately, it had electricity). No? Or the time...well, never mind. No peanut butter poke cake, either? And I remember those "by prescription only" times, too. Not all nostalgia is good nostalgia! Alana

    1. Wow, some of your camping stories rival mine, and yet I still seem to look back at them (well, most of them) fondly.

  5. That was hilarious and totally unexpected! That would suck...especially at that age! We use a tent (or our car if we can't set up outside). I also have a hammock, BUT inside my totally black out tent (no daylight and much cooler) but if you looked inside you would find a fully inflated queen size air mattress and fan! I can no longer sleep low to the ground. We also have an air mattress that is made for our car. Once you lay the seats down you inflate it and with my converter we can watch movies on the ipad. It's nice!

  6. Since i was raised by a woman whose idea of "roughing it" was a hotel with no room service, i wouldn't have much to go on to speak to this topic. We did do two RV trips when i was young (one was a horrible disaster with three children and a stomach bug), the other not much better. The "camp" i went to for Girl Scouts had cabins in the woods, electricity, reasonable bathroom accommodations, and a huge industrial kitchen for making meals.

    If i had to go actual tent camping, the first thing i'd have to procure would be an expert to tell me what to pack, what to do, and how to do it!

    1. The woman who raised you and I agree when it comes to accommodations!

  7. I had to peruse the timeline for this story as it seemed very long ago. The last time I went camping, my sis and I got into it. I like camping with amenities for sure. Like my backyard will do just or the balcony of our apartment building.

    1. Although your destination options sound good for whatever may come up, I think for me, my camping days are over.

  8. i had to clean up the coffee i just spit out laughing at the end here. thanks, karen. haha

    1. Oops, my bad. Although I'm secretly happy I made you laugh.


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