How to Make No Mess/No Cleanup Camping Meals

Sometimes I like to fuss with camping meals. When it’s raining or the fish aren’t biting and there’s nothing better to do, I’ll work on a new recipe or spend some time preparing a big meal, but mostly, I’m all about the easy stuff. I still want it to taste great, but I want it fast and over so we can move on.

We camped in late winter-almost early spring this year and we needed a fire. But I wanted to enjoy the fire and the warmth without having to stand over the Coleman cook stove making breakfast. This was a perfect time to try the “no clean up” breakfast I’d been pondering.

It started with a couple of oranges. I cut away the top and scooped out all the pulp and juice and saved for the clean up breakfast oranges unwrapped

Once the oranges were empty, I opened a can of cinnamon rolls and placed one in each of the oranges. I replaced the top, wrapped each in foil, and put them on the grate over the open fire. Saint had raked hot coals under the grate and the wood outside the grate was still flaming.

no clean up breakfast oranges wrapped

Next, I took an empty tin can (I try to keep a couple of empty BPH free cans in the camper. You will be surprised at how often you can use them…dumping grease, holding water to sprinkle on too hot coals) and filled it 2/3 full of water. I added two eggs and then poured in more water to cover the eggs. I placed them on the grate closer to the flame. They were boiling in no time. In fact, it took less time for Saint’s soft boiled eggs than it does on the stove at home, so these were a little less soft than he likes.

I then put him to work on the bacon. Onto the hot dog roaster fork, I threaded six slices of bacon. Saint held the fork over the fire. I knew this would work because I had done it before, but luck would have it, Saint got it a little close to the flame, so there were no complaints about my overcooked eggs.

no clean up breakfast cooking

father daughter blog bacon

I don’t have a picture of the finished product because, well, it was ugly wasn’t pretty plus a neighboring camper visited all through the cooking process and finally asked what we were doing. I explained we were having a no mess/no clean up breakfast, and he told me his wife just made scrambled eggs in the microwave. Well, sure, but how much fun was that? He had knocked the wind right out of my sails, so I didn’t dare take a picture lest he think it was some big deal or something.

At any rate, breakfast was somewhat successful. The cinnamon rolls were a little doughy as it is hard to judge the doneness over an open fire. The eggs and bacon were a little too done. The meal was much better than a rubbery scrambled egg from the microwave. With a little tweaking, I think it will be perfect. And best of all, there really was zero clean up! I didn’t even need to wipe the table.

Next post, I promise a meal that was a bit more work, but so worth it!


When Life Gives You Storms…

First it rained. And rained. We were camped at Beaver Dam River site during Spring Break week in order to burn some huge brush piles on our lake property.

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And we had hoped to do a little fishing in the down time. With the cold and the rain, the thunder and the lightning, plans changed. We did have one short period of time to throw our hooks in the water and managed to catch a couple of small mouth bass.

A mid-week commitment to an After School Good News Club prompted us to leave the trailer set up and return home for a day. After the club meeting, we drove back to the trailer and got it ready to move the next morning. We had arranged to join a group of Campers on Mission at The Great Passion Play grounds in Eureka Springs. This was our first experience working with the volunteer group, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the fact that the storms continued.

We had a good work day on Wednesday, with Saint helping tear off a roof and prepare it for re-roofing.

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And I helped this fun crew with painting around the entry statue and pool.

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It was a windy, warm day, allowing us to accomplish a lot. Good thing, because just about dinner time when we were all back at our campers, the sky turned ugly.

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The minute I got dinner on the table, our phones alerted us to impending danger. A knock at our door announced that other campers were heading to an unknown building to take shelter from a possible tornado close by. Rain drenched us all as we scrambled to first one building and then to the other across the street and down below. Hail pelted our vehicles and echoed through the concrete structure that now housed 26 humans and 8 dogs.

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Remember that dinner we left on the table? Other than one couple who brought their potato soup in mugs and might have been taking their lives in their own hands, we were all in the same boat, um, so to speak. That day week maybe year old popcorn was looking pretty tempting. Most campers had grabbed cell phones and two had weather radios, so we had a continual symphony of beeps, buzzes, and robotic voices accompanied by a few thunder booms and relentless hail.

I’m not certain how long Saint and I were there before we finally consulted with all the radar pictures from every station and decided we would be safe to go back to the trailer. All warnings were not off and the rain had not stopped, but we determined that we would monitor carefully and return to the shelter room if needed.

A tornado was reported on the ground in nearby Barryville and other storms were boiling up in Oklahoma, but by ten o’clock, flooding was the greatest threat for Eureka Springs. Before the night was over, a car had been swept away into Leatherwood Creek and three streets were closed. We were high and dry wet, but safe. Thank you, Lord!

The rains put a damper on our work the next day. The men found a few projects to work on inside, and the faithful sewing ladies continued making costumes for the Passion Play.

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And if you follow, you know I don’t sew much. Since it was too wet to paint and do the outside projects, I volunteered to turn the sashes after they were sewn, so I did help a little, but mostly I visited and got some great camping tips from the ladies who have been roaming with Campers on Mission for a long time. I asked them to name ONE little thing they couldn’t live without while camping and got some really good suggestions to share with you:

  • Small hangers-buy them for your RV closet. Another camper added that she bought the good ones at the RV store. They are guaranteed to stay put. Another says the cheaper small ones from WalMart work fine for her.
  • Tableware-Buy a light weight set (like Nordic or Corelle) that can be used in the microwave.
  • Tervis cups/glasses are guaranteed for life. They are sold at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I just saw there’s a new Tervis store at The Landing in Branson. 🙂
  • Minimize-Find one cleaner that cleans everything! The same goes for shampoo and body wash if you can find one you like that can be used for everything; less to store and less to carry if you use a campsite shower.
  • Collapsible mesh laundry totes. (That’s my hint.)They lie flat when not in use, and open up to hold dirty clothes. Even opened and filled, two or three will fit across the end of the top bunk, out of sight. The mesh allows you to put damp clothes in and they won’t sour and smell like they do in plastic or canvas bags. And did I tell you you can buy them for a buck apiece at Dollar Tree?

Well, that was an afternoon well spent, wouldn’t you say?

The next day was chilly but sunnier. The men were able to work on several projects and the ladies finished their costumes. I got a tour of the Holy Lands grounds and took some pictures.

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Our first experience with Campers on Mission was a good one, despite the storms. The volunteer campers were friendly, hard working examples of faith. The people associated with the play were accommodating and appreciative. The Passion Play is set to open later this spring. If you are in the Branson/Eureka Springs area, stop and visit. There are lots of things to do and see in one place. And if you’re a camper, there are lots of places to camp on the grounds and surrounding area.

Made in the Shade

teardrop camper

She’s a bit camera shy and asked not to be in the photos, but this girl’s got it made! We first met at Indian Creek Campground near Beaver Lake when we were all trying to get in a last weekend camping trip before the park closed for the season. She camped alone in the site next to ours, and enjoyed every minute of it. I was so impressed with her set-up and her independence that I went home wishing I’d taken a picture. So what are the odds that, when the spring season started this year, we would end up in a completely different campground camping side by side, again?

The little Teardrop Camper is adorable, and while I would love to show you the interior, I chose to respect her privacy there are some things even I won’t ask. But that adorable rug speaks volumes as to what’s inside.

teardrop table

And look at the portable grill and the way she organizes everything.

teardrop chair

The compact chair. And did I mention she builds her own fires? And brings her bike?

I’ll bet you’re expecting a red car, aren’t you? Or maybe white? Think Americana. Or nautical.

teardrop car

Uh-huh! She totes, loads, and paddles her own kayak. Her kids are grown, she’s on her own, and she’s taking advantage of every minute of her life…reading, visiting with other campers, sitting by the fire, hiking, biking, and rowing. Are you inspired? Or just plain jealous?

I was so excited to post this that I’m putting my brilliant breakfast post on hold until next time.

Happy camping!

DIY Camper Canisters

We’re getting ready for the deep freeze here in SW Missouri, and a friend of mine saw the camping trailer by the garden and asked why we were here. Good question! Commitments and holidays, I guess. That doesn’t mean we’re not dreaming and preparing for camping and traveling. In fact, my Christmas gifts included a large cutting board to cover the stove and a turbo convection toaster oven…both for the camper. I also got several items to help better organize my cabinets, and one of the things I want to do is free up more cabinet space for groceries. To that end, I decided to get some of my staples out of the cabinet. I looked for canisters others were using and didn’t see anything that struck my fancy. They were all too heavy, too breakable, or too plain.

Well, Saint is such a hoarder collector, it was no surprise that we had a couple of the old, small metal coffee cans with lids. Perfect. I also had a piece of chalkboard scrap book paper and some sisal rope.

DSC00086The paper was not quite large enough to totally cover two cans, but I cut the height to fit, which left me with strips to cover the bare space where the paper didn’t touch. These don’t look perfect in back, but not bad at all, and who sees the back side?

TDSC00087I used both the Tacky Glue and hot glue on the first one, but I noticed the trails of hot glue were showing up under the paper. The Tacky glue appeared to be adhesive enough on its own, so I used it alone on the second can.

DSC00088The result matched my chalkboard painted refrigerator. But it needed something to compliment the shabby nautical decor. What better than sisal rope? I hot glued a couple of rows around the bottom with plans to add a row at the top until I found that it interfered with the closing of the lid. I also planned to use chalk to identify the contents, but I decided on a more permanent silver marker.


DSC00091I need one more for corn meal. You know, a staple for fishermen. 😉 And with a bit of velcro on the bottom, they will be removable for winter, but secure enough to travel when we’re ready.

These canisters are just the size I need, they are kind of cute, and best of all, they are TOTALLY FREE!

And that is how we roll…


Beauty in the Ozarks


Brilliant blue skies enhance the rusty tin roof of this old house that catches my eye every time we near our favorite campgrounds on Beaver Lake. I wonder what memories these weathered walls hold, and I’m saddened to see such a wonderful structure wasting away. But then I think of the beauty it still brings to all who pass this way.

The Ozarks certainly do not lack for beauty this time of the year. Our camping neighbors from Maine were traveling to Jackson Hole WY, planning to make this an overnight stay along the way. After experiencing our little corner of the lake and surrounding area, they extended their stay to four nights. With these sunrises…


And these views…


Who wouldn’t want to stay longer?

I, too, love the changing, colorful foliage, but the rocks cry out no matter the season.


And when you happen to capture a scene like this, how can you not worship the Creator?


DSC00320And finally, a heavenly recipe that I should have shared with our Maine neighbors, but they had driven to Eureka Springs…for pizza.


Do you notice that our Coleman Camp Stove is almost as old as the house at the beginning of this post? Well, not really, but we’ve had it since we first got married, and we recently celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary! They don’t make them like they used to, so we keep this one.


Pair this with a little smoke from your campfire, and you have a quick, easy meal with a gourmet flair lakeside! We loved it, and it tasted…mmmmaybe even better reheated for lunch the next day. I’m sharing this recipe with campers everywhere because it is worthy! And I must give credit to The Midnight Baker blog where I found this recipe and modified only slightly.

Mushroom Asiago Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I actually used breast tenders to save cutting them into thirds)

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 springs fresh thyme (bruised and torn)

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Asiago cheese (use more if you love the flavor)

Directions: Pound chicken breasts in heavy duty zip lock bag until flat and uniform. Dredge…I just pour the seasoned flour right into the gallon sized bag with the flattened chicken and toss it around to coat.

In your iron skillet, heat butter with 1 of the tablespoons of olive oil, reserving the other. Add chicken and saute until brown on each side. (About 5 mins on the first side and 3 or 4 on the other.) Remove from pan and cover with foil. To the hot skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and mushrooms and garlic until they begin to brown. Add wine to the skillet to deglaze, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet…that’s where your flavor is hidden.) Add thyme and put the chicken back in. Allow the chicken to simmer until almost done. This didn’t take long when using the tenders. Add cream, cooking and stirring to thicken. I sprinkled the cheese on before I removed the chicken from the skillet because I like mine melted and blended in. You may add it as you plate it if you prefer. With a simple fresh salad, this makes a wonderful campsite dinner.


So sorry about the quality of this picture, but we were starving! Saint said I should make this even when we are not camping, but you know it just won’t be the same. Enjoy!

And speaking of the Saint, here he is cutting and splitting wood off our lake property. I loved all the textures and crunchy leaves, but that was the stinkiest fire he’s ever built.



Soon, we hope to be camping here, and I can’t wait to show you our new view of the lake.






















































































































































Fall Colors…and Textures

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Fall is my favorite time of year for camping. It’s my favorite time of year, PERIOD. The leaves were just beginning to turn last week when we spent a few days at Beaver Lake. Much of our time this trip was occupied with doing business, but we managed to snag a few bass and enjoyed a boat ride or two before the rain fell…and fell…and kept falling. The rain was much needed, and predicted, so I made plans for that before we left, and this blog is sort of combining a Thymeless Sage and Random Rants post with a Camping Capers post.

It started with a frozen turkey breast I’d bought on sale this summer. When I rediscovered it in the basement freezer, I realized it would soon be time for turkey to go on sale, again…for Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s what I said. Where has this year gone?

I’ve wanted to try cooking a turkey breast in the crock pot for a long time. I know, right? Who hasn’t already done that? Uh, this girl! So I thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days, placed it cavity side down in the crock pot, slathered butter on top, threw on a few sage leaves, some course salt, and freshly ground pepper. I let it cook for about 8 hours on low, basting it a couple of times, but, looking back, I don’t think that was necessary. It remained very moist.

So, then, what do you do with a crock pot full of turkey breast for two people? Being the frugal cook that I am, you don’t let anything go to waste; especially when you can make 5 or 6 easy meals at one time. Here’s how we consumed it:

Meal # 1-Sliced turkey with gravy made with the juices, of course. Served with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Nothing fancy!

Meal #2-  Turkey and stuffing Casserole

2 cups chopped turkey

1/2 small onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

T butter

1 c chicken broth

dried sage leaves (optional)

8 oz  Stuffing mix

1 can cream of chicken soup

Chop turkey and set aside. Saute onion and celery in butter until translucent. Add chicken broth, sage, and stuffing mix. If mixture is too dry, you can add more broth, water, or a whisked egg. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. (Use the size smaller than 9X13…I’m not good with numbers.) Top with turkey pieces and then spread the cream of chicken soup over the top. Bake at 350 until heated through…about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meals #3 and 4

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I actually made two of these. This small one we took camping. Boy was it great to heat up in the microwave on that rainy night when we couldn’t have a campfire. I took it out of the foil pan, of course, and heated it on our paper plates, served it with some sliced tomatoes and red bell peppers from the garden.

2 cups diced turkey breast

1 cup pan drippings from the crock pot

1 large can mixed vegetables. (I like Veg-all chunky)

1 cup frozen peas

2 cans chicken broth

1 T cornstarch

1 T flour

1/2 cup water

1 package pie crust (Store brand in dairy case and the box contains two individually wrapped rolls)

This recipe makes two medium or one very large 13 x 9 pot pie.

Directions: Put pan drippings, drained vegetables, and chicken broth in sauce pan. Heat to almost boiling. Mix corn starch, flour, and water until no lumps are noticeable. Add the mixture to the saucepan, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, then remove from heat and add turkey.. Roll out pie crusts and cut or shape to fit bottom and sides of dish or dishes. Pour in the filling. (No more than 3/4 full) Use the remainder of the pie crust to top the pie. You may cut strips and lattice, cut shapes, or just place the pieces randomly across the top. Bake at 375 degrees until crust is golden brown.

We still have the second pie in the freezer to eat at a later date.

Meal #5-Turkey salad

2 cups diced turkey pieces

1/2 cup diced celery

3 green onions, chopped

1 cup grapes, washed, dried, and halved

1/2 cup cashews or toasted pecans


1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon tarragon

Toss first 4 ingredients together, Mix dressing ingredients together and add to turkey mixture. Add in cashews and serve on lettuce leaves with a croissant or crusty bread.

Turkey breasts, especially during sale season, may just be your best bang for your grocery buck.

So, what does all this have to do with camping? Not much, really, except that having the pot pie and turkey salad already prepared came in very handy as we made trips to the electric company, planning and zoning, back hoe/excavating guy, and all that business we needed to do to get our lake property ready for our camping trailer and possibly an out building with bathroom facilities. Speaking of which, I am obsessed with galvanized metal. I just want you to look at all these rustic ideas we’re hoping to employ in that out building…eventually.



If you have rustic design ideas using reclaimed barn wood or old barn tin, please share.



Take Your Garden Camping

Gardening seems to be an enjoyable hobby…to those who gladly accept those beautiful, free vegetables you share. In reality, gardening involves a lot of hard work. Rewarding, but still labor intensive. Fishing and camping, on the other hand…oh, wait. They’re a lot of hard work, too, but so worth it!

After a couple of weeks of hard work in the garden, we were ready for a break; a week of camping at Beaver Lake was just what we needed. And after all that garden work, we had the fruits of our labor all over our counter tops. So why not take them camping?


Washing, slicing, and bagging the veggies before you go saves water, time, and work at the campground. Here are some of the ways we used them:


Pictured here are balsamic glazed chicken breasts, beefy-cheesy stuffed poppers, and grilled okra. By having the chicken pounded and tenderized before bagging and freezing, I was able to go out fishing while the bag of chicken thawed. When we returned, Saint started the charcoal while I rubbed it with olive oil and salted it. It cooked on the grill in less than 15 minutes and then I basted it with balsamic glaze that I prepared before we left home. I microwaved the glaze in the glass storage container, stirred, and it was ready for brushing.

For the okra, I made a foil tray, drizzled olive oil in the tray, sliced the okra length wise, tossed it in the oil, and salted it. I placed the foil directly over the charcoal, and stirred it occasionally. This was my first attempt at grilling that particular vegetable, and I was pleased with the result. The smokey, caramelized taste was great with the chicken.

Saint’s favorite part of this meal was definitely the jalapeno poppers. This was an original recipe using an old favorite dip/spread as a stuffing.

Beefy-Cheesy Stuffed Poppers


8 oz cream cheese (softened)

1/2 small carton Hiland’s French Onion Dip

1 jar dried beef-torn or cut into small bits

1 tsp. minced onion

1-2 tsp. garlic salt

jalapeno peppers



Mix first five ingredients to a smooth, spreadable consistency. Split jalapeno peppers length wise, remove seeds and membrane. I recommend using plastic gloves for this. Spoon filling into a jalapeno half and top with the other half. Wrap the stuffed pepper with a strip of bacon (you may want to use half a strip depending upon the size of your pepper) and secure with a toothpick.

Grill over hot charcoal, turning or rolling as needed, depending upon how charred you prefer the pepper to be.

Other meals included fresh corn microwaved at home for a couple of minutes and then finished by rubbing with olive oil and sea salt before grilling, and yellow squash and zucchini that had been sliced and marinated in Zesty Italian dressing at home and only needed to be placed on the grill and turned as needed. These accompanied bacon wrapped filets and grilled avocados.


The avocado (not grown in our garden 🙂 was prepared by halving, removing the seed, making criss-cross slits through the fruit, not the peel, rubbing on a couple of drops of hot sauce, sprinkling with coarse salt and Parmesan  cheese, and grilling peel side down. I never turned the halves, the browning of the cheese occurred when I placed the lid on the grill.

I’ll share the great make ahead low carb quiche recipe we enjoyed before fishing when I find the pictures.

It really is easier than you think to eat healthy and use your fresh garden or Farmer’s Market produce when you camp.

Space Saving Tips for RVs and Camping Trailers

Organization is KEY to successful RV travel. With cabinet space at a premium, you want to make the most of every available space. The old adage, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, just doesn’t apply, here.


Practically everything you need to prepare, cook, and store (except for microwaving) is contained in this tiny, under-the sink cabinet space behind a closed door.  There’s a stainless steel skillet for cooking on your camper stove, an iron skillet for the campfire, and…drum roll, please.

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Inside the big red pasta pot are all, yes ALL of these! The wonderful nesting bowls can be used to heat or cook on top of the stove, as mixing bowls, for food prep, or even as salad or storage bowls since they have plastic lids. The two sizes of pasta pots with lids can be used to cook almost anything. Look for these sets at flea markets or garage sales to outfit your camper. Serious space savers!

Who says you can’t be a gourmet cook in a camping trailer? If you want to, that is. With this storage solution, you are ready for anything!


Chasing the Stripers

father daughter blog campground lakeI ❤ Arkansas campgrounds! Seriously, we have only found one Corp of Engineers’ campground in AR that we didn’t love. When I planned a guided striper fishing trip as a birthday present for Saint and our daughter, Tiffany, the guide wanted to meet at Rocky Branch Campground near Rogers. We usually camp at Beaver Dam Site when we fish on Beaver Lake, but E & C Striper Guide wanted us to meet him at 5 in the morning and it was an hour drive from Dam Site, so we decided to set up camp at Rocky Branch. We were glad we did. It was a lovely place. It was opening day, May 1, when we set up camp. Since it was our first time there, we drove through the camp looking for the perfect spot. We were amazed that no one had claimed that little peninsula already, as several of the campsites were filling up around it. It was such a beautiful spot on a point with water on three sides.

Finally, the weather seemed to cooperate for us to set up all our camping equipment…chairs, hammock, table, lantern, stove…even the canopy with the shabby chic lights I had made and never really gotten to enjoy.

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And we had time to hike and explore the site. We found an upper camping area with limited views of the water and lots of wild flowers, bluffs, and dogwood trees.

father daughter blog phlox                                                father daughter blog delano on bluff

The trouble started when we decided to drive the few miles into Rogers to pick up a few groceries I hadn’t packed. That’s when we discovered why the camp site was NOT already taken. The gentle breeze that we enjoyed while hiking turned into a gale. When we returned to the campsite, our brand new awning was on top of our camper, my new table was on the rocks with a glaring divot in the top, our lantern globe was beside it with a broken globe, and the tablecloth and place mats were dangerously close to drowning in the lake. Lesson: Never, ever leave your campsite on a windy day without putting the awning down. The metal arms had snapped and broken. We were fortunate that the fabric had not torn. Saint wondered if, had we secured it with anchor stakes, it might have been okay. The lady at the RV supply store said it would possibly have been worse. She said customers have reported that, when anchored, the winds catch it in the middle and snap it in half. Bottom line: If in doubt, roll up the awning. Fortunately, the salesman suggested something Saint had considered. Instead of buying replacement arms at about a hundred bucks, just cut off the broken part and re-rivet the arms. So, with a little ingenuity and a few bucks, Saint was able to restore it to a fully functioning awning…which gets rolled in when the winds come up!

Morning came early at 4 AM when Saint rolled out of bed, excited about this fishing trip. It came even earlier for Tiffany, her friend, Melissa, and her dad, who were driving to Rocky Branch from Fayetteville, but everyone made it on time. My job was to stay at camp and prepare breakfast for the fishermen/women.

I can’t seem to get the open fire cooking down to a science. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t, but this gave me time to try something I’d seen on Pinterest and wanted to try. YES! Yes, you can cook bacon over the open fire on a sharpened stick, or in this case, a hot dog roaster.

father daughter blog bacon

It was not all success, though. The egg casserole that I had made over the open fire before, did not adapt well to the fire I tried to keep going for the four or five hours of fishing. It burned on the bottom. And I didn’t do all the bacon on a stick. 🙂 I fried 2 pounds of bacon, fried hashbrowns, and made gravy and biscuits while the troop fished. I added the freshly baked WalMart muffins and fresh fruit.

I could see the father/daughter combos on the boat in the distance, and they shouted on their way in so I’d have everything ready. They sent a few pictures of their catches during their time on the water.

father daughter blog rif and fishfather daughter blog delano and fish

father daughter blog in boat

They didn’t catch the BIG one, but they had a great time with lots of laughs. And how often to you get a guide whose wife bakes you homemade chocolate chip cookies? Ed, with E&C Striper, made every effort to accommodate this crew. Making memories.

And, I think they enjoyed coming in to a campfire breakfast with stories to tell…seeing Uranus.

father daughter blog breakfast

God’s handiwork…wonderful people, beautiful campsite, spectacular sunsets. What could be better?

father daughter blog reflection of sunset


Top Ten Freebies, Upcycles, and Dollar Items to Make Your RV Camping Easier

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If I were going to be a full time RVer, I would no doubt probably be willing to shell out the big bucks for quality items for my cabinets. Since I’m not…yet…I like to find things that make my camping trips easier, more fun, and convenient. I occasionally lose misplace things along the road, and I don’t want to have to worry go back and get them. That’s why I made this list of things that are indisposable very helpful, and best of all, they are all free or cost one buck. I’m serious. When you try these ideas, you’ll never go searching for that perfect dish, pot, or accessory again. You’ll just do what I do and go through your trash recyclables, scout out garage sales, and/or head directly to your local Dollar Tree. Here’s the list…sort of in order of importance.

  1. Foil pie pans and microwavable individual meal trays-  Start saving them NOW. Every Weight Watchers’ meal you eat will leave you with the perfect little tray that you can reuse to heat things in the microwave. These are particularly helpful when you prepare food in advance for traveling across country from campground to campground and don’t always have time for the fun cooking outside. When you do have the time, the foil pie pans are perfect; better than foil pouches because they are sturdier. You can cover with foil OR put one pie tin on top and clothespin together or tie with kitchen string. Very little clean up is involved. You can wash them if you want, but since you have already reused it, you don’t have to feel guilty about tossing it.
  2. Shower caddies from the Dollar Tree-Buy two or three of these because you can use them everywhere. One of the most pinned postings from my camping board is the one I use in the cabinet to separate plates and cups and hold things in place as you travel. They also work great for carrying directly from your trailer or RV to the outside picnic table…paper products, condiments, cutlery.
  3. Crystal Light type drink containers-These are the perfect size to hold your silverware, fit inside a drawer, and keep the implements separate. I put forks and spoons in with handles down, but since I keep sharp steak knives in them, too, I put the knives in with the handles out.
  4. Mesh Collapsible Hamper-Dollar Tree-one buck. I love mine. I used to stuff dirty clothes in a big trash bag. Trust me, this smells is so much better! You might need more than one. Five days of camping, for Saint and me,will fill it up. I like that it is not shapeless like a trash bag and it is breathable. I put it on the top bunk, which we never use, and it is totally out of our way.
  5. Mt. Olive Pickle Jar- If you haven’t eaten Mt. Olive dill pickles, well, I’m sorry. You should eat them just for the jar, but no! These are the BEST dill pickles. Almost like getting them out of a pickle barrel. And the jar is the perfect size for sun tea and other drinks. A  gallon sun tea jar takes up too much space in the cabinet, takes too long to make the tea, and makes too much for two people to drink before it gets old. This one is perfect. If you have more than two people, get two of them because they still fit in the cabinet better and give you a choice if you want a jar of sweetened and another of unsweetened tea or a jar of tea and a jar of lemonade. ALSO, you can put a candle or solar light inside for your picnic table ambiance. Aren’t you glad I used also? Way too many twos in this paragraph, but totally necessary.
  6. Reading Glasses and Tinted Reading Glasses-Once again, a dollar. “What!?” you say. Yes, if you pay $35-$135 for a pair of stylish reading glasses, you don’t want to leave them at a fast food stop along the way or lose them overboard trying to get your fish netted. I buy 8-10 pairs of these and keep them everywhere-one in my purse, one in the truck, one stays in the trailer, one in the boat, and one in practically every room of my house. They work just as well as the expensive ones…well, the earpiece doesn’t last as long, but what the heck…you can just throw them away. If you leave them, lose them, sit on them…it’s okay. One less thing to worry about…or two.
  7. Foil Grill Covers-Once again, Dollar Tree, where everything is a buck. When you have too much for your portable BBQ and you need to cook over the fire pit grill at the campgrounds, these fit right on. They have holes already reinforced so the juices get out and the smoke flavor gets in. Just another way to make your meal faster and easier. Throw away after one or several uses. They come in a pack of two.
  8. Solar Lights-Dollar Tree sells these for a dollar apiece, of course. You can attach them to your tent or awning stakes or rods so visitors don’t trip, screw the stakes off and put them in jars for table lights, or replace bulbs in a vintage chandelier to make an awesome outdoor light fixture. You can mark paths, make games and obstacle courses for the kids, as well.
  9. Screen Colanders- Stackable on top of your pots and pans, these wire mesh colanders wash veggies or kids’ toys, but my favorite use is to turn them upside down over a bowl of potato salad or a plate of cookies to keep the flies off! You can fancy them up by attaching a drawer pull as a handle, but why would you? Just pick it up from the bottom. They store much easier without a cumbersome handle.
  10. Collection– I know, I know. This is a cheat. I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so I lumped several other things into this last point. Butter tubs and  plastic deli meat containers that you have in the trash or recyclables work just as well as a matched set of covered bowls. Save them. They are dishwasher safe and perfect for the fridge. Use them for pickles, olives, sliced onions, mushrooms…things that come in a jar or can and take up too much room in their original containers. You may notice a couple of bottles in the above pictures that look like water bottles for toddlers. These are from Dollar Tree. I use them for mustard and mayo. No, I don’t suck either one, although I do like Miracle Whip almost that much. I transfer mustard and mayo from the big jars I have in my kitchen at home into these. The “straw” makes a perfect spreader and these fit into the door of the camper fridge. I also find that a quart milk jug fits much better so I save those, wash them, and pour the milk in from my gallon jug at home. Also, I have glow stick bracelets for putting around a toddler’s wrist…easier to keep track of, and to place in the bottom of a cooler or tub of ice. Such cuteness you’ve never seen, and it makes it easier to select your cold drink. I have tiny command hooks to use everywhere I want. One goes in the space behind the hide-a-bed, and I hang the fly swatter on it. TaDah! Out of sight, yet accessible.

There you have it! Long post, I know, but good grief, there’s a ton of helpful information here. How do I know? Just look at how many times I used words like easier, perfect, easier. Yep, camping’s about the fun and the food. Anything that makes your life more fun, more delicious, and easier has got to be worth a 1290 word count, right?