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 thymelesssageandrandomrants.wordpress.com, 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.

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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.

Ta-dah!

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…

 

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

Dressing

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.

 

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160863017916083292/

 

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http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160863017916083288/

[houzz=http://www.houzz.com/photos/774329/Potting-shed-rustic-garage-and-shed-nashville]

 

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?

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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:

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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

Ingredients:

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

bacon

Directions:

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

Camping Trailer Organization

Here’s another upcycle for your RV or camper.

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Who doesn’t have one of these from ten years ago, right? This handy-dandy carousel  used to be full of cute little, neat little all sizes of plastic storage containers with lids. Until…you started sending them in your husband’s lunch or filling them with leftovers and sending them home with your kids or melting a lid or two in your dishwasher, and then you are left with this. PERFECT! Even worth scouring garage sales for, if you don’t already have one, because the caddy fits right into your camping trailer cabinets. See!

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It secures your peanut butter, coffee, canned goods (although I don’t take many of these on the road) and revolves when you need access to them.

Just another genius idea that stumbled upon me. You’re welcome!

Caddo Lake Camping

Our latest camping adventure had three purposes, hence, three campgrounds in seven days. Sounds exhausting, but it was really a fun trip.

First of all, Saint’s doctor scheduled a procedure for him in Little Rock that required an overnight stay…during spring break. Secondly, we had planned a trip to an interesting looking lake in Texas a couple of years ago and had to cancel. Little Rock was almost half way there, so why not? Finally, we store our trailer near Beaver Lake in Arkansas during white bass season so that we can pull our boat back and forth and the camper will be there when we need it. By coming home a different route, we could drop the camper off…and spend the weekend before at our favorite camping spot.

I also planned to show you how we put the new awning on and the cute shabby cottage lights I made to go on the awning. In part III of the trailer makeover, I was going to show you my new camping table and share some recipes.

I made all the plans, the grocery lists…I’m a planner like that, but, as I have learned in the last couple of years, the most important rule of camping is: ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B.

We were pleasantly surprised with the Willow Beach Campground in Scott, Arkansas. It was about 10 miles from Little Rock and served as a great base for us. We drove there on Monday, with plans to tour Little Rock on Tuesday, and finish up the medical test on Wednesday morning. There were plenty of vacant spots right on the Arkansas River.

Second cast into the river and I caught this big Drum.

Second cast into the river and I caught this big Drum.

We fished an hour or so and caught a couple of small bass, also, but the wind picked up, and we decided not to put all our camping stuff out. Also, we were going to be away from the campsite all day the next day. We built a charcoal fire and I used my new pie iron. I’m going to post the recipe because it was delicious, but I can’t say my pie iron experience was totally successful. I made a huge mess. Even though I added foil to prevent it.

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The plan was to try as many low carb camping recipes as possible. This was the first, and worth sharing the recipe.

Low Carb Ruebens in the Pie Iron

Ingredients:

Sour Kraut

Corned Beef slices (I used Budding, a package for each sandwich)

Swiss Cheese

Thousand Island Dressing

Low Carb tortillas (I used  a large one and folded it in half between the pie iron-6 carbs)

Butter or Olive Oil

After lining both sides of the pie iron with foil, I buttered the tortilla and placed it in the pie iron with the buttered side toward the foil. Next, between the fold of the tortilla, I layered a couple of slices of corned beef, a slice of Swiss cheese, a heap of kraut, a dab of TI dressing, and then repeated the layers. I closed the pie iron, and Saint had a nice hot fire ready. We grilled it about 5 minutes on each side, just long enough for everything to melt and blend and the tortilla to brown. I made one for Saint using bread, but I was absolutely delighted with the way the low carb tortilla browned and crisped. I’m not a huge Reuben fan, but this was really yummy!

And then we enjoyed this sunset before turning in for the night.DSC00020

The next morning, we visited the state capitol building, the Clinton Center, the MacAurthur Military Museum, the Riverfront area, and other historic sites in Little Rock. My favorite part was driving through old neighborhoods looking at the variety of houses…no cookie cutter rows of houses there. So many unique and quirky details.

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After a day exploring and having a late lunch at the restaurant at the Clinton Presidential Library, we were ready for a pleasant night at the campgrounds. The only complaint about Willow Beach is that it is close to the airport and the planes were noisy the first night.

After finishing with the medical business, we were on the road to..hermetically sealed in a mayonaise jar…Karnack, Texas. I had tried for reservations at Caddo Lake State Park, but they were full of spring breakers. It was a beautiful place and the fishing was free there with a day use fee. But, it was full! Luckily, I found a place called Backwater Jack’s. At first, I was dubious. It was definitely backwoodsy. And the campsites were very close together…just not the kind of spot we were used to, but the river was pretty, surrounded by live oaks with hanging moss.

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The proprietors were friendly and helpful, there were full hookups, and the river was beautiful. We lost our sewer hose somewhere along the road. I know, right? How could we not see that? A resident camper at Backwater Jack’s told us about a shortcut to Marshall, TX. We Are Marshall, Texas? With a WalMart. We were on our way!

After several essential purchases, we drove on to the Caddo State Park and looked around, determined to return the next day for fishing.

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And we still got back to the campground in time to fix dinner.

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Low carb meatloaf cooked on the grill. This was probably the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten. It was definitely the best I’ve ever made. I did all the prep work at home, wrapped two “loaves” in foil packets, and froze it. (This made four servings.) I put them down in the refrigerator to thaw the day before. Yum! There is nothing better than caramelized yellow squash and asparagus tossed with olive oil and a little sea salt and cooked on the grill. Here’s the recipe for the Meatloaf:

Low Carb Campground Meatloaf

1 package lean ground beef. (Mine was slightly more than a pound)

1 egg

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (Kraft shaker kind)

1/4 cup oatmeal

2-3 green onions-sliced

1/2 of a green pepper-diced

1/2 cup tomato sauce +more for topping

dash of garlic salt, salt, and pepper to taste

Peppers for slicing into rings.

Mix all together, divide into 4 round “loaves. Cut peppers into 4 rings. Place an individual loaf in each ring and smooth it out. Add a little tomato sauce to the top and sprinkle a bit of Parmesan, if you like. I used foil wrappers and wrapped two loaves in a packet. When ready to use, thaw and place on the grill. I’d say it took about five minutes before flipping and another five after flipping.

We each had a meatloaf with the asparagus and squash for dinner and saved the other two to heat in the microwave. I topped it with a slice of cheese and made a sandwich for Saint and ate mine without bread. It was just almost as good leftover.

The next day, campers started filling up the campground…most from one family. It reminded me of family camping trips to Aunt’s Creek on Tablerock Lake when I was younger. When Saint and I returned from a wasted  almost useless trip to Shreveport for a Cajun dinner, the family had gathered around the fire right outside our trailer and laughed and told stories well into the night. That, my friends, is what camping SHOULD be. We were putting stuff away and getting ready to leave early the next day or we would have been right out there with them.  I did get a couple of pictures (with permission) the next morning. Don’t you love Miss Terry’s chair?

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And Grandma’s boy! What a cutie!

 

Saturday was mostly spent driving back to Beaver Lake Arkansas where we planned to fish and cook all the food we didn’t have time to cook along the way, and put up our awning, and put out our new table, and just enjoy a couple of days before leaving our camping trailer at the storage facility. We tried.

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We really tried. Just when we got the new table set up and Saint started building a fire, he looked at the weather app on his phone and declared that we could probably get everything rolled up and put away before the rain started…if we hurried.

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Our daughter and son-in-law were coming for dinner the next day.

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We have all this food left because plan A for cooking just wasn’t working so much this trip. And that nasty little leprechaun wasn’t finished. Not only did it rain…

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There’s the new table that didn’t get put away. Four inches of snow before it was over and no grilling dinner for the family. On to Plan B! We had heat, covers, food, basketball on TV, books, and sparse phone coverage. The oven, which we almost never use, set off the smoke alarm, but, with the door open, we managed to cook the cowboy chicken grillers for lunch.

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Along with the orange roll we had tried to cook over the open fire at Caddo. We won’t be doing that again, but it heated up fine in the microwave on a snowy day.

And we are not to be defeated! S’mores by candlelight on Sunday night.

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Monday morning, we threw in a couple of hooks, but it was too cold to fish. We packed up all that food and dirty clothes, cleaned up the trailer, and left it there for the next time, when, hopefully, we won’t need that plan B, but, first rule of camping…always have one!

 

 

Budget Friendly Update for Camping Trailer-Part 1

When planning a make-over for a camper or RV, it is important to consider how you will be using the space in addition to how you want it to look. If I were choosing something to look at, I would consider something like these that I have pinned to my Pinterest board:

Absolutely adorable, right?

Rv Trailer Decorating | RV Glamping / Shabby chic vintage style camper trailer decor

Or this one. So cute.

But I can’t see Saint moving all the darling accessories out of his way to prop up his feet after a hard day of fishing. So, I had to think about what we could both live with. We needed:

  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place.
  • Something that will travel well without having to be put away and gotten out at each campground.
  • Light and open (as much as a small trailer can be.)
  • Easy to clean.
  • Comfortable with a homey, resort feel.
  • DIY improvements that were affordable.
  • Something that would retain its value.

We decided on a coastal cottage look. The most bang for the buck came from painting the oak cabinets.  We had paint leftover from repainting our kitchen cabinets. We used TSP to clean them, removed the doors and drawers, and used a good oil based paint. We did two coats without a primer and the coverage was fine. The white glossy color was too bright for the tones  of the counter top, floors and walls. I wanted a driftwood tone, so I bought a small can of Sandalwood stain (gray tones) and wiped it on and off, leaving an antique look in the crevices. It achieved that driftwood look I wanted and by using paint I already had, the project cost less than $10.00.

We took the old gold hardware off and sprayed it  with RustOLeum oil rubbed bronze paint. Well worth the $7.00!

The next thing we did was remove the old 80’s valances from all the windows. For all except the bedroom, I used fabric that I already had. Natural and traditional burlap, blue striped “ticking” fabric, and some white sheers I already had were altered. I used lots of inspiration from things on Pinterest, especially the fabric flowers that I cut and stitched and hot glued.

I decided on a nautical navy and white stripe fabric for recovering the booth cushions. We did not remove the old upholstery. It was easy to simply wrap the fabric around like a package and duct tape it to the back. If and when we want to change it, it will be simple to do. We also used burlap to cover the padding around the seats, above the door, and under the sofa.

So, here is a before and after picture of what we have done thus far:

DINING BOOTH BEFORE

Dining Booth Before

 

DINING BOOTH AFTER

Dining Booth After

 

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Kitchen Before

KITCHEN AFTER

Kitchen After

I made the pillows out of the burlap and striped fabric I had left, and I did a faux screen print of a starfish and seahorse that I linked to on an earlier post here. I used a twin fitted knit sheet from WalMart to “slip cover” the sofa; totally removable and washable. Added cost, $17.00 for the set, and I used the flat sheet on the top bunk in the back.

So, what do you think, so far? I’m loving it…and right on budget.

Total thus far: $34.00