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…

 

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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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!