Monday, January 30, 2012

Camping Part Three

Time for another part in my Camping Series. You’ve heard the slogan for Boy Scouts “Always be prepared” this is very true! I was Cubmaster for my sons Cub Scout pack for three years. I learned a lot! Kids will be hungry all hours of the day while camping! There just isn’t anyway around it. Plus you don’t want to have something happen and there isn’t even a Bandaid in sight! You need to pack according to the length of your stay. Clothes, cooking gear, food, blankets, pillows, first aid and activities. It can be overwhelming to make sure you have everything before you leave the driveway.

I use totes to help me sort items. The large deep black tote.. this is for our cooking gear, camp site gear and anything else that might be needed. Here is my checklist for the big black tote:
Pots n pans
Big spoons
Cutting Board
Paper towels/ toilet paper
Pot holders
Paper plates
Plastic utensils
Clothes pins
Playing cards
Ziplock bag with insect spray and sunblock
Inside a plastic bag I’ll have dish soap, wash rags, a bar of soap placed inside panty hose, empty laundry soap container with the push button spout. (I’ll explain that later)
First Aid Kit
Charcoal/lighter fluid and lighter  (Pack these separately from all the above items)
Small radio

In the picture above you can see two thin totes I use pack up the dry foods. Items such as breads, snacks, chips etc.. Can be store without the worry of a whole loaf of bread being smashed. In the other thin tote items like potatoes, onions, fresh fruits are stored. Let’s face it no matter how hard you try there will be bugs and flies around your camp site eventually. These totes are a great way to keep unwanted pests away from your food! Plus before a camping trip I will have these on the kitchen table going through my check list while packing. Organization… it helps!

You know you’ve seen it.. the commercial about space bags? Well they really do work. After a camping trip everything gets washed. Sleeping bags are bulky and hard to store away but not if you have a space bag.. gee sound like a commercial huh? Haha! Seriously they are awesome! I wash and dry all 5 sleeping bags put them into a giant space bag I purchased at Wal-Mart. Then they are stored up in the rafters of our work shop. No bugs, no dust! Next trip they are clean and all you have to do is throw the bag in with everything else you take along. Space bags work great for pillows too. Squish them down and they take up less space for the trip.

Remember the bar of soap inside panty hose and the empty laundry soap container, ok here is whats up with that. Once at your campsite designate a hand washing station away from food and sleeping areas. Place the bar of soap inside one of the panty hose if you can find a low branch tie the panty hose around it letting the soap dangle below. Fill up your empty clean laundry soap container with water. When hands need to be washed you push the button spout for water and use the soap in the panty hose. It keeps the soap from getting nasty with mud, twigs or leaves. This was something we did at Cubscout Day Camp and it worked great!

How about the rope and clothes pins listed on our check list? Tie your rope around two trees to form a clothes line. When towels or clothing needs to dry you just hang them on the clothes line. You can also tie battery powered lanterns on the same rope/clothesline and suspend them between trees to help light up your campsite. If there is a need for an outdoor changing area this works great as well. Just hang old bed sheets or blankets over the rope for privacy.

I know some may think wow this is a lot to bring. Trust me after years of camping you figure out what needs your family may have. Plus you learn what you needed the most got left behind. Always be prepared.. yes we know. J

 Up next a thoroughly stocked first aid kit, activities and camp recipes! Till then….

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grilled Chicken and Veggie Skewers

I love simple dinners that taste so good! I made chicken and veggie skewers then tossed them on the grill. You could do this on an outside or stove top grill. Super easy!

If you are using wooden skewers make sure you let them soak in water for about 30 minutes. Otherwise they will catch fire and burn which isn't so good!

First chop your veggies in large chunks.. I used bell pepper and onions, you could also use small button mushrooms or squash too. I had two chicken breast that I cut into bite size chunks. Thread them all on the skewer, I started and ended with the bell peppers since they are more stiff and everything doesn't fall off. You can certainly marinate them at this point in just a store bought italian dressing. I went ahead and popped them on the grill. Once the chicken was no longer pink I brushed some BBQ sauce on each skewer and cooked for another 3 minutes or so.

So while all the grilling was happening I cooked whole potatoes in the microwave for baked potatoes. This was a fast and really good dinner!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baby Back Ribs

Yes I know its January... and yes I want some BBQ! I couldn't believe how easy this was, seriously.

Buy a package of ribs and your favorite bbq sauce thats it!
Cut the ribs in half and place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let the ribs boil for an hour. On a large cookie sheet covered with foil place the boiled ribs on top and slather with the bbq sauce. Put the ribs in the oven on broil for 5 minutes. Ta-dah you are done! I'm sure you could finish on the grill outside also to give them more flavor.

They didn't last long around here :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Camping part two

Welcome back! Today I’d like to continue my series on camping even though you might be under a foot of snow right now. Still you might consider camping later in the year or if you’re brave go soon! I’m giving you my tips and tricks, recipes and activity ideas on camping.

 First things first.. time and location. You don’t need a week of vacation to do this just a weekend get-a-way is perfect! Do some research on nearby places such as State Parks and local camp sites. We prefer to camp at little out of the way places. It is much more authentic I guess you could say and quiet.

If you are camping in an RV make sure there are water, electric and sewer hook ups. And that the pad sites are large enough for your RV. If you are spending your night in a tent don’t expect the stars and crickets chirping to lull you into dreamy bliss if you are placed too close to an RV using a generator. Most places have separate sites for RV and tent campers, double check to make sure. We stayed somewhere before that did not offer electric/ water for the RV’s and it was loud all night with the generator they used!

Ask! Ask friends, co-workers or family if they have ideas of where to stay. Majority of the time this is where you will find a perfect spot. Use google to search places in your area. Look through pictures and check prices many require you to make reservations. Here is a good site which lets you search all over the United States and Canada Choose a state and search a listing of cities and campgrounds. Click on the campground name and it takes you to an interactive map of the campground. It will list all the amenities, activities, restaurants and local attractions.

Not up for a night of camping? How about a day trip to a nearby State Park? A local day trip for us would be Cleburne State Park its close and offers a swimming area with picnic tables, restrooms and a playground. For a small day time fee you can spend the day relaxing on a blanket watching the kids splash around.
Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX will take you into a whole other world. See an actual dinosaur track still in the river bed. If the water is low enough you can walk into the river bed and even step right in a track! They have a small learning center with fossils and skeletons of dinosaurs. Picnic and campsites are also available. Along with several hiking and bike trails.

One year we made the long trip to Graceland in Memphis, TN. I packed a cooler with drinks, snacks and lunch items. We stopped at a roadside rest area in Louisiana for lunch before continuing on to Memphis. Seriously I have never seen trees so tall like I did in Louisiana! After spending the night and the next morning touring Graceland we left Memphis for the trip back. We stayed at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Louisiana. The next morning we dug for diamonds, but found some pretty rocks instead! Haha! But still it was the neatest thing for my son who loves digging for anything. And people have found large diamonds at this location so you might get lucky! The picnic area was absolutely beautiful! Moss covered the ground like carpet and the trees were so tall!

Many State Parks have a natural theme surrounding them. Such as Enchanted Rock State Park just north of Fredericksburg, TX. It was huge! And you could hike up to the very top! The views were amazing!

You can see people at the top.. We had a long ways to go!

Made it! Absolutely beautiful views!

 I love places like this. I can learn so much about the history of a certain area! Yes, I am a history geek!
In a time where every penny counts look back on how family vacations or trips were. Back when our grandparents took our parents out to see the Grand Canyon. So want to go there someday! But as I said every penny counts and gas sure takes up a lot of those pennies. Search into local or nearby places. You might be surprised at what you find!

Next week- Camp organization and supplies..stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Camping and picnics- part one

There is something about packing up food and a blanket for a picnic that invigorates me! Also to pack up a couple days worth of food, a tent and to go camping! Of course over time the way we camp or picnic has sure changed. "Roughing it" can still be applied today if you choose a tent next to a bubbling stream with no toilets or showers or even internet!!! Yikes! For some people thoughts of that is what keeps them from camping. As for myself? I love it! These are photos I've pinned on Pinterest and its sort of a history of camping and picnics.

 People have always camped. The need to travel made camping necessary. Funerals, family reunions or weddings might have been far away from home. Or perhaps it was after church on a Sunday afternoon. The family would load up the wagon and head to the nearest stream for fishing and a picnic.

The lack of ice and ice chests to keep food from spoiling made having to hunt or fish for fresh meat very important. Even now we might "fish for our supper"!

In the 1940's after World War II America seen a boom of family camping. Enjoying life, vacations and travel were high priority! Primitive tent camps were dotting the rivers, lakes and canyons.

1940's-1960's seen a transformation in how we camped. Station wagons were turning into sleeping and cooking quarters. 

The first RV's were produced

Teardrop trailers became popular since they could be towed by cars with much more ease.

Here is a picnic scene from the 1957 film "Love in the Afternoon" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper. A small folding table is transformed into a quaint picnic table!

As we rolled into the 70s large driving RV's such as the Winnebago and its famous "W" hit the scene

80s, 90s and today has brought a big variety of RV's. Pop-up tent/campers, pull behind, 5th wheel on up to the very lap of luxury. Meeting every convenience possibly imagined. With washer and dryers to big screen TV's the camping experience has evolved to provide all the comforts of home.

Sometimes with all the modern convenience we forget to take the road less traveled. A spur of the moment get away to a near by lake or park. Just pack up and go...

Plan to take your family on a picnic or a camping trip. Trust me do this!! We do several times a summer. It will be childhood memories your kids will cherish. Maybe even pass a long to their children. Let them get dirty, ride bikes and skip rocks across the water. Light up the campfire for smores and play card games at the picnic table by lamp light. 

This next picture is from my personal camera taken in 2008 at Lake Granbury, TX. One of our favorite places on De Cordova Bend. Nope.. no electric, no water.. only one bathroom with a toilet and sink nearby. Its beautiful and free (first come first serve basis)!

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting camp recipes, game ideas, tips and tricks to help make a camping weekend run as smooth as possible. This is a passion of mine just as important as my new passion in furniture make-overs. I want to share what I've learned over the years. So please check back and I hope to see ya soon!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pinning away

Some really cute things are popping up on Pinterest. I had to track this first one down for the original source which happens to be an Etsy shop. Seriously this shop has the most adorable wreaths! 

A spool side table from Crafted Niche

Pretty painted drawers and the rest is stained on this tall dresser from Twice Lovely

Some valentine ideas
These are soooo cute! And seem pretty simple to make over at Glorious Treats

Gorgeous red velvet cheesecake brownies from Sweet Peas Kitchen

Eager to see what shows up on Pinterest for Valentine and Easter crafts! I need some ideas for my moms birthday which happens to be on Valentines day :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

The weather did turn chilly.. its raining and cold two things together that can make it a miserable day. Unless your in Texas and still in a drought so bring on the rain! We want the lakes to fill up before summer since we got a new boat!!!

When its cold out we tend to want cozy comfort food. Tonight I whipped up some homemade chicken pot pies. The house smells wonderful! This is fairly simple and I'm not sure where I found this recipe. But I'm pretty sure a lot are basically the same. Last week I roasted a couple of chickens to freeze for later. I used one of those today which helped put this together faster. You can always just buy a rotisserie too!

Here is what you will need...

1 rotisserie chicken, with meat pulled off the bone and chopped in bite size pieces
2can cream chicken soup
chicken broth
Onion, carrot, potato diced
Frozen peas
Dried parsley, thyme, sage, salt and pepper
Frozen puff pastry or pie crust dough


Preheat oven to 425

Saute onion, potato and carrots in a large stock pot until tender, about 10 minutes
Add cream chicken soup and chicken broth, stir and then add chicken, peas and seasonings

Place in ramikins and top with dough, sealing the edges and using a knife make a slit across the top.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes on a cookie sheet, then cover lightly with foil and bake additional 20 minutes

Now let me say I made some modifications.. one, because this did not come with exact measurements and two I was cooking for just me and my son tonight so I did not use a whole chicken! Nor would I have needed to it was plenty. I used maybe half a chicken and about 1/2 cup chicken broth then added a little more water to thin it out some. I chopped up half an onion, one decent size potato and I had matchstick carrots I just used a good hand full and gave them a rough chop. About 1/2 up frozen peas and on the seasoning I just sprinkled it on stirred then tasted. Added more if I needed too. This would for sure make 4 pot pies just divide the filling. I filled our two up to the brim and still had some left over.

My son smelled the onion, potato and carrots saute and was having a teenage melt down of hunger! By the time we were on the second half of foil wrapped cooking he was doing a strange count down dance around the kitchen table. (wish I had video of that haha!) Lets just say he wrinkled his nose once he found out what I was cooking but he loved it so much he ate every last bite!

For sure a keeper! YUM! Sorry Chyanne this one is for me!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hitting the antique mall on a Sunday

I've been to all the antique malls around my area, I got brave today... I let my son drive us out just north of Cresson, TX to a place called Grandma's Attic. I say that because it involves him driving at speeds of 65 mph..... but he did fine! Back to the mall, it was huge!!! I know they have around 100 booths maybe more.It was so cram packed full of wonderful! I had been looking for old metal cookie cutters, found them in Glen Rose but for $5 and $6 each or even higher. Here I got a bunch for only 90 cents each!!!! Yay I'll be making some ornaments with those. Such as these precious ones..

Around every corner I looked high and low. So much to see..some things priced sky high while others were more humble and offered a cheap gal like me a chance! Then I spot them laying a bowl under a table in one booth. I just couldn't believe my eyes! A bag full of glass knobs for $30!!!!!!! And 2 small bags with 6 and 9 white porcelain knobs for $3 and $4 ! I snatched those up so fast! 
Ended up there are 2 oval glass knobs and the rest are a rounded petal or a diamond way I know how to describe them haha! I'm so thrilled and hope to use them on a future dresser project! My son came away with a Simon and Garfunkel album $5 along with a grey and black fedora hat $5. It turned out to be a great day. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day of cleaning

Today I decided since the weather was going to be 70 in January to clean out our work shop. I moved around things, went through boxes, threw junk away and finally got something accomplished... you can now walk around!
Here is what it looked like before I started.....

And now...
Look how much floor space there is! Maybe I can get around to finishing the armoire now that I have room!
It makes me happy until we clutter it up again.. I still have tons of boxes to go through that are in the attic portion of the shop. I thought today I'd only tackle the floor area, boxes above my head which require a ladder to reach can wait another day. Like when hubby is here, he is good for that kind of stuff! :) 

So ready to start new projects! I've been piddling with the idea of opening a booth at my local antique shop. But before I can do that I need to have plenty things to put in a booth. We will see how it goes...

Until next time :)

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