Loving my Snow Free Life

This is a bit of a catch up blog, so forgive me if it’s a bit all over the place.  It’s been a busy few weeks and I have some things that I didn’t get the chance to write about and  I want to make sure I don’t forget about them.  All this sunshine can make you forget things! (For our friends up north: sun·shine:ˈsənˌSHīn/: direct sunlight unbroken by cloud, especially over a comparatively large area, ie; “we walked in the warm sunshine” – Lee)

First, I have to take a moment and say how happy I am that we sold the house and got out before this winter.  If I picture myself sitting in the house waiting for it to sell, I get the shudders.  Seriously, thank God we took what was offered and sold.  They have had four named storms in the northeast in two weeks. They only name storms when the snow comes in multiple feet.  Twice I have tried to travel for work and the flights have been cancelled.  We dealt with that snow for 13 years, but this appears to be a whole new level and every time I see the weather, or look at pictures posted by my northern Facebook friends it reinforces the decision we made.  It was not lost on me that instead of dealing with the piles of snow last weekend I was sitting in a kayak taking bird pictures.   I hope I never take these moments for granted.

 

Cori asked me a question this week and it’s been rattling around in my head so I thought I would answer it here.  She said “What will your blog theme be once you run out of firsts and aren’t newbies anymore.?”  It was a good question.  I think my answer for now is that if I am doing this right I will have enough firsts to last me awhile.  There are so many places I want to see and experiences to try, that I will consider this a success if we are out there doing them.  That being said, seconds of a really good thing aren’t bad either. As far as being a newbie, I don’t know at what point I will stop thinking of myself as one.  Part of that is we had no real camping experience before trying this life, so many basic camping things that others take for granted we are totally clueless about.  Add onto that full timing, which no one can truly prepare for, and that is a whole lot of new.  At some point I suppose I will wake up and take the newbie off my tagline, but I think that moment will come when it comes.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes .

On a completely different note,  I’ve tried out all of the local grocery stores (Publix, Winn Dixie etc) and have settled on Walmart Neighborhood Market.  Walmart prices are tough to beat, but I find the super centers to be incredibly chaotic and shopping there was something to be endured.  So I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere in the Walmart Neighborhood Market.  They only carry food and limited non food items (think of IGA’s from our childhood), and are small and very friendly. Because they are less crowded the pace is slower and you can really take your time, and the prices seem to be exactly the same as the bigger super centers.   I’m a big fan…and this is coming from someone who went out of her way to avoid Walmart for many years.  If you haven’t been to one yet, you should definitely check it out.  I went this week and my grocery bill was only $119…can’t beat that.  Oh and I got the best advice from my friend Craig.  He said to spend the extra dollar on organic milk because it is actually more cost-effective than buying regular milk and throwing part of it away because it expires before you can use it.  He’s absolutely right.  The organic milk lasts much longer and as an added benefit tastes delicious!!

I also wanted to mention that since I have started walking more, I have been having some problems with my feet and back.  I got a pretty nasty callous next to my little toe on my right foot and my back has been killing me.  I thought I was just out of shape, but finally I broke down and saw a podiatrist for the first time in my life.  Dr. Levy in Largo was great.  He removed my callous, checked my walk, and made some suggestions for new shoes.  I loved his no nonsense approach and his staff was extremely courteous.  It was by far the most pleasant medical experience I have had since I came on the road.  After the podiatrist, I went to Foot Solutions   (which is a national chain) and they spent over an hour measuring my foot, checking my walk, and trying on various shoes with me.  It turns out my foot has gotten larger (I went from a 7/12 W to a 8D) which was causing a lot of my callous problems.  That coupled with a high arch was making me walk funny to compensate, hence the back pain.  Yes, I spent $129 on a pair of Brooks shoes (which Lee was not so thrilled about), but really can you put a price on walking without pain???  I think not!

What else?  Well, I got my quotes for insurance from a couple different places and decided on going with Miller RV Insurance. When you’re living full-time in your RV you need to get different insurance because most standard policies will not cover you if you’re living in the RV.  Miller Insurance specializes in Full Timers and the agent I talked to, Stevia, (not a misspell) was absolutely fantastic.  Our policy is underwritten by Nationwide insurance (the actual policy is offered by Allied Insurance) which gives me a good feeling especially since Nationwide is a reputable company and also based in my hometown of Columbus.  One thing I want to mention here is the basic policy only came with $2K in personal property insurance.  After significant discussion we ended up getting $30K in personal property.  Lee felt very strongly that if something catastrophic did happen we would be able to replace everything.  So think about that when signing up…computers, Ipads, phones etc alone are way more than $2K.  The premiums went up a bit but it wasn’t too terribly crazy.  

Finally, we are receiving mail at the new “home” address and we have the proof required to establish residency.  Now we need to find the time to go to the DMV and get everything changed.  With Lee’s school schedule it’s not that easy, so we may need to go once school is done.  The main point I want to make here is it was WAAAY more time-consuming than I originally thought, both in hours spent on the task and the time delay to get things mailed to prove residency.  If you’re planning on popping in and out of an area to establish residency you really need to do your homework and get everything done in advance.  Luckily, we do have plenty of time, but it’s still been a pretty stressful process.

So enough of all the catch-up, now I can tell you about our week!!  Linda and Howard of RV-Dreams were kind enough to allow us to crash their boon docking rally on Valentines day so we met up with Jo and Ben and all got there around 10 am.  It was so fun having such a large group of the Class of 2014 together in one place.  One of the coolest things was getting to meet Jim and Barb in person.  We felt like we knew Jim and Barb because Deb and Steve had hung out with them and they knew all about us as well.  They have a puggle Daisy May who is such a cutie patooty and a really great blog if you want to check it out. (As an added bonus, Daisy is a very, very quiet dog. Couldn’t get a word out of her. – Lee)

Jim and Barb

Jim and Barb

Miss Jo in front with Jo, Kelly, me, and Cori behind

Miss Jo in front with Dr. Jo, Kelly, me, and CoriThe RV-Dreams Boondocker Rally

The RV-Dreams Boondocker Rally

Linda telling everyone to eat more cupcakes

Linda telling everyone to eat more cupcakes

Cori and Greg...shocking the Amazon Queen is on the computer :)

Cori and Greg…shocking the Amazon Queen is on the computer 🙂

Kelly and Cori

Kelly and Cori

 

Craig and Miss Jo

Craig and Miss Jo

 

Cori taking a picture of me taking a picture of her

Cori taking a picture of me taking a picture of her

We had a wonderful time reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.  I have taken Monday and Tuesday off to spend more time with folks before they leave, and Kelly and Bill are staying in our campground all next week…hooray!!!  So because I have to stop this entry at some point, I will pause here, but there is definitely more to come!

Recipes 

Neither of these recipes is what I could consider easy but they are so good  for me it’s worth the extra effort.  Plus both heat up well the next day

Chicken Pot Pie in Phyllo

  • 8 TBL (1 stick) butter divided
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked, chopped chicken
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 TBL parsley
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12 phyllo sheets  (makes two large servings)
  1. Prepare all your ingredients in advance as several of the steps happen quickly
  2. In a large skillet melt 4 TBL butter over medium heat
  3. Add celery, onion, and carrot and cook until onion is tender approximately 2 minutes
  4. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute without browning
  5. Gradually whisk in broth
  6. Cook stirring constantly until mixture is thickened and smooth
  7. Add chicken, salt, nutmeg, and parsley and stir
  8. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  10. Melt remaining butter
  11. Stack 6 phyllo sheets per packet, brushing each sheet with butter as stacked
  12. Place half chicken mixture on each stack
  13. Make packet by folding ends in
  14. Place on lightly buttered cooking sheet seam sides down
  15. Cook 30 minutes until golden brown
  16. Serve

 

Chicken Pot Pie in Phyllo

Chicken Pot Pie in Phyllo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Special Chicken

This is Lee’s special recipe and the girls always called it Daddy’s Special Chicken.  It takes awhile but so yummy.  I asked him to write down his recipe hence the extra steps 🙂

  • Chicken breasts or thighs (boneless/skinless)
  • Butter
  • Lemon Juice
  • Flour
  • Garlic salt and pepper
  1. Cut the chicken into small portions, about 3″ square
  2. Pound it as thin as you can get it. The thinner the better. It helps to pound them between sheets of plastic wrap.
  3. In a frying pan, melt butter and get the pan as hot as you can without the butter smoking
  4. Dredge damp chicken in flour
  5. Fry the chicken for only as long as it takes to crisp up each side. Sprinkle it with Garlic salt, pepper, lemon juice on each side
  6. Turn only once
  7. Once they’re cooked, keep them warm in the oven
  8. Eat as many as you can before other people can get any!
  9. Make someone else clean up the mess.
Daddy's Special Chicken

Daddy’s Special Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hanging with Deb and Steve

The very next day after we landed in Rock Hill, Steve and Deb came to visit!!  They had rerouted themselves to spend time with us, which was so sweet, and a wonderful way to start our adventure.  We made chili for them and once they got situated we went over and spent some time eating and getting caught up.  Steve works from his rig and we spent some time talking about how he makes that work for both of them.  It was a great conversation and it’s interesting to talk about the similarities and differences between what we are experiencing.

I promised some pictures of Ebenezer State Park in my last blog so here we are.   Our “back yard” looks out on the water and it is a very short walk down to the water’s edge. They have sites that can be reserved for two weeks as well as “drop in” sites that are day to day.  The campground is broken into two sections; a wooded area and an open area with lake views and the rangers are very nice. The price is right at $28 a day for full hookups, including city water, and fantastic water pressure.  They have free wifi which is on the weak side but we had no trouble getting cell signal here.

I was dying to try out my new camera a Canon Rebel T5 so I walked down to the water and took some pictures.  My one big splurge before going on the road was this camera.  I have been using a point and shoot for many years, but I couldn’t stand the thought of missing out on a great shot because I didn’t have the right lens.  It was pretty darn intimidating at first, but Lee hooked me up and set the settings at a simple point and shoot mode.  I will get more fancy later, but for right now I loved  how simple it was to use.  Plus I felt like a professional with my fancy camera and strap!!

Campsite in Ebenezer State Park

Campsite in Ebenezer State Park

 

 

Our Camper :)

Our Camper. (Comes complete with handsome and witty man.-Lee)

 

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View from our back window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ebenezer State Park

Lake Wylie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ebenezer State Park

Ebenezer State Park beach area

 

Lakw Wylie

Lake Wylie has beautiful houses across the shore

Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie has many small islands you can land a boat on

The next night Steve and Deb cooked.  They made chicken breasts wrapped with bacon, new potatoes, and salad, and it was amazing.  Here’s the thing about swapping meals…what’s normal to the people cooking is super good to the invitees.  We all tend to make the same meals over and over so it’s a great opportunity to eat something new and get some fresh ideas.   Deb’s potatoes in particular were awesome.  She medium boiled them in salt water to fork tender then drained them and added butter and a sprinkle of parsley.  So good.  The skins were super soft and it was easy.  I added the recipe below

Oh, and the funniest thing happened.  We have two pretty brazen squirrels hanging out at our site (Rocky and Adrian).  Lee put some birdseed on the ground and now they are our best friends.  Well Rocky did the craziest thing.  He jumped on our chair and then climbed up on the metal hand rail next to our door.  Then he sat there and swiped at the door with his paws as if he was trying to get in.  Crazy.  Couldn’t get a pic when he was on the rail, but he stayed there for a really long time before he jumped down and wandered away.  Never seen anything like that.

Rocky

Rocky  (picture taken by Lee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next night I made my Grandma Betty’s Meatloaf.  She passed not that long ago and throughout this process I really have felt she was watching out for me, so it was nice to make her signature dish and get to share it with our friends.  Steve and Debbie really liked it (I gave Steve the leftovers for a meatloaf sandwich the next day)  and I have posted the recipe below.   Then we played Cards against Humanity and Steve crushed it even though they have never played before.  I do want to warn you: the game is definitely for adults and can stray into the raunchy.  (That’s not true at all. It starts in the raunchy and quickly devolves into the downright offensive. I love it. – Lee) Luckily they definitely got it and there was a ton of laughter.   Who knew Deb had such a wicked sense of humor 🙂  Deb also showed us how she routes them.  She is the planning master and is an expert at finding campgrounds and routes.  She uses a website called Road Tripper (they also have an app) and Lee really liked it.

The next morning we went to this little hole in the wall breakfast place my sister recommended called Anna J’s.  I love the mom and pop places and luckily it’s what our new budget can afford.  I got silver dollar pancakes, bacon, and coffee for $5.  Can’t beat that.  Deb got the catfish and eggs because she had never seen it before.  I love her adventurous spirit.  The catfish was unbelievably good and the portion was so large we all had a piece.

Look at this piece of catfish...unbelievable and I think her breakfast was $6

Look at this piece of catfish…unbelievable and I think her breakfast was $6

Steve and Deb at Anna J's

Steve and Deb at Anna J’s…they are so cute

 

So what do you do after going to a diner for breakfast in South Carolina?  Well, you go to a gun range of course!!  Let me start by saying I am a huge fan of all of our amendments including the right to bear arms so I have no problem with gun ownership at all.  We never had guns (although Lee grew up with them) because of the kids, and for us personally the potential risk was not worth it.  However now that it is just the two of us we have been rethinking that strategy and since Steve and Deb have a gun in their rig we decided to go to a range and shoot it.  If you are a gun owner, I think it is incredibly important that both members of the couple are comfortable enough shooting it to use it in a dangerous situation.  That means being able to load, cock, and fire the weapon with some level of certainty.  In order to make that work for me (who has very limited experience) it would be important to find a handgun that I felt I could grow comfortable with over time.  Steve’s was not too bad but had a bit of a kick for me, so I rented (for $7) a Smith & Wesson 9MM.  I liked shooting it and found it reasonably easy to cock and load, but I am not ready to “pull the trigger” and buy one.  Sorry couldn’t help myself 🙂  It was fun though and only cost $18 for Deb and Steve who had their own gun and bullets and $57 for Lee and I who rented one and bought 100 rounds. Kind of pricey for an hour’s entertainment but it’s also research so I didn’t feel too bad about it.  Plus of course we got some great pictures and had a really good time.  Although Deb has been shooting since age four, she has never been to a gun range so it was a new experience for her.

Shot him right in the junk. I was not messing around :)

Shot him right in the junk. I was not messing around 🙂

Deb is one heck of a shot. She's been shooting since she was 4 years old. Don't mess with her.

Deb is one heck of a shot. She’s been shooting since she was 4 years old. Don’t mess with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve's a goofball

Steve’s a goofball.  He was simulating a man coming at me to get me in the shooting mood. It worked!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me and Deb. Do you believe she's older than me?? What I wouldn't give for that Italian heritage

Me and Deb.

 

Lee was into it

Lee was into it

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went over to see my sister briefly after the gun range.  Needed to pick up our new heated fresh water hose. (Even though the daytime weather is quite nice, sometimes the nights can get down below freezing, and there’s no protection from the cold for the fresh water hose that goes from the campground’s water supply hydrant to the camper. It’s a pain to go out and turn it off every night, and then drain it, so it doesn’t freeze up. This hose has a built in heating element that runs the length of the hose, and a thermostat, and keeps the water above freezing, down to well below zero. One of the nicest features is that it is female on both ends, so you can use it whether the power source that you are plugging in to is at the supply end, or the demand end. It comes with a male-male adaptor to use that feature. – Lee) It’s nice to be able to send things to my sister while we are here and we are taking full advantage to get our last minute items from Amazon.  Then we took some relax time in the afternoon and just hung out in the beautiful sun. The weather has been beautiful all week…clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid 60’s.  As I watched my friends in Buffalo and other parts east deal with nasty weather, I felt so very grateful to be in a place where I could walk outside with just a light jacket.  One thing we hadn’t done yet was have a campfire, so we took advantage of our last night with Steve and Deb and made one.  It was great, and just what we needed to take off the night chill and the first campfire of our new life together.  So glad we had friends there to share it with us.

Our first fire of our new life. It was a good one

Our first fire of our new life. It was a good one

Deb and Steve bringing us Stew and biscuits...yummy

Deb and Steve bringing us stew and biscuits…yummy

Deb made stew and biscuits and we sat around the fire and talked until pretty late.  Even though we are going through similar things today, we took advantage of the time to learn a little about each others pasts and since Deb has 4 kids and I have 3 shared our childbirth stories…hey, it’s what parents do.  (No pictures, because….ewwww. – Lee) The best story of the night though goes to Debbie when she told us how Steve passed out in their Lamaze class.   He says it was the heat, but they were playing the C-section video at the time so you be the judge!!!  Steve is a big guy, and he passed out cold in the hallway and they had to carry him into one of the doctors’ offices and use smelling salts to revive him.  The picture of that is still making me smile and it was so nice to get to know each other better.

We had a great time this week and feel really blessed that Deb and Steve changed their travel plans to meet up with us.  They are headed to Charleston, Savannah, and all parts of Forida, but we hope to meet up with them again before they head out west.  I know I keep saying it but it bears repeating…you meet the nicest people in this lifestyle and we are truly grateful for it.

Recipes

Tracy’s Chili

  • 3 packages of chili seasoning (I like McCormick but any brand will do)
  • 3 lbs hamburger
  • 1 – (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 – (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 3 –  (14oz) cans petite diced tomatoes (no flavoring and do not drain)
  1. Brown hamburger
  2. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, and seasoning packets to large pot
  3. Add cooked and drained hamburger
  4. Cook over medium heat until comes to a light boil
  5. Simmer (stir frequently so it does not burn)
  6. Let sit several hours on no heat or overnight
  7. Eat one or two meals then freeze the rest

 

Deb’s Tiny Potatoes

  • Small bag of white or red new potatoes
  • 1 stick of Butter
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  1. Boil potatoes in salt water until fork tender
  2. Drain
  3. Add 1/2 to 1 stick of butter (use generously)
  4. Season with parsley
  5. Serve

Grandma Betty’s Meatloaf

  • 2 pounds hamburger
  • 1 package Lipton’s onion soup mix
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup crumbled Saltine Crackers
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Glass or metal baking dish
  1. Place hamburger in a large mixing bowl and add soup mix, crackers, milk, and egg
  2. In a separate small bowl mix ketchup and BBQ sauce
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  4. Mix hamburger and ingredients VERY well using your hands (yes it’s messy but it’s the best way!!)
  5. Shape meatloaf into a loaf in a baking pan (I try to not make it too thick or the middle does not get done)
  6. Cover top and sides of meatloaf with sauce mixture (saving 1/2 for second basting)
  7. Cover pan with aluminum foil
  8. Cook 1/2 hour at 350 degrees then remove from oven
  9. Drain grease, baste with remaining sauce, cover with foil, place in oven
  10. Cook an additional 1/2 hour
  11. Remove from oven and check the middle to make sure it’s down
  12. Place in oven for an additional 10 minutes uncovered to lightly brown the sauce on top
  13. Serve

Y001

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Time at a Pickle Festival

So I have to be honest, part of the reason we went to the pickle festival is so I could name this blog “first time at a pickle festival”.  I mean seriously the jokes write themselves!!  (No, they don’t. I write the jokes.-Lee) I did want to go though. (I did not.)  I love small festivals and Winchester is very close to our campground. (Dangerously close. So close it’s really impossible to get lost between here and the pickle festival.) We’ve talked about going for several years but something always got in the way so it was great to just go and have a good time.   The place was packed.  Winchester, NH is a tiny town and has one main street.  We found a parking space, with some difficulty, and walked down the side of the street the festival was on.

Winchester Pickle Fest

Winchester Pickle Fest

Call John cracks me up...you know it's a small town festival

Call John cracks me up…you know it’s a small town festival

Basically it was a small group of tents with food and some locally made items for sale.  The festival was disappointingly short on pickle themed activities, they could have had a lot of fun with that, but there was a bouncy house area for kids and even some pony rides.  It seemed like the entire town turned out and the kids were definitely having a good time.  (They don’t know any better.) The prices were also reasonable for the food items and all of the vendors were local non-profit organizations trying to raise funds, which I always like.

Lee said it was so specific "since Nov 1962"

Lee said it was so specific: “since Nov 1962”

Fried pickles were yummy

Fried pickles were yummy

The festival T-shirt...which I would have bought if I didn't look so terrible in yellow

The festival T-shirt…which I would have bought if I didn’t look so terrible in yellow

Oh yeah maple cotton candy

Oh yeah maple cotton candy

 

 

One of the coolest things was they had several baskets that local non-profits were raffling off as a fundraiser.  They were nice baskets and the tickets were $1 each so they were very reasonably priced.

A cooking gift basket I put in for

A cooking gift basket I put in for

Lee chose the pancake breakfast basket

Lee chose the pancake breakfast basket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The absolute best part was the local library had a “Fill A Bag For $4” book sale and I cleaned up on old cookbooks.  (I loaded up on WWII and Cold War material. Everyone wins.) As I have mentioned before I love unusual cookbooks and I found several that I have never seen before, and you can’t beat the price.  Plus, it was an absolutely beautiful day…sunny with a temperature in the 80’s which is highly unusual in late September here.  (I spent most of my time looking for small patches of pickle-free shade) I mean, we have had snow on October 1st on more than one occasion so it was exciting to see such a pretty day.  Oh, and when we were at the library we ran into my friend Jim and his barbershop quartet. Their singing was beautiful and it was so nice to see him. Overall it was a nice festival although I don’t think I would make a special trip to see it, but I did enjoy the small town vibe. (It’s worth noting that we saw the entire thing in about an hour. And most of that time was spent in the library looking through books. This is not a big festival. This isn’t even a festival. But there were pickles.)

Really sweet they were singing to a woman in a wheel chair

Really sweet they were singing to a woman in a wheel chair

The acoustics in the town hall were amazing. Jim sounded so good!!

The acoustics in the town hall were amazing. Jim sounded so good!!

On the way home from the pickle festival we stopped at the Ashuelot River Campground to check it out.  We need to move our rig on November 1st and Swanzey Lake Camping Area only offers winter storage with no access mid-winter which won’t work for us. Ashuelot has a new owner and he was very interested in working with us for both staying in a seasonal site the month of Nov (at a reduced rate) and month-to-month storage for the winter.  They had a site with very easy access right near the front so it could easily be plowed to if we needed to get to the camper for any reason.  The owner is going to talk to his wife about pricing since they’re still new at this, but I got a good feel from the place and it’s great to have options other than putting it in a storage area somewhere where we can’t get to it if we want to go somewhere in the winter.

Also this weekend we saw lots of house sale activity.  We dropped the price another $10K this week and that seems to have put us in a new category.  Friday we had a showing and Saturday four groups came to our open house.  On Sunday Lee and I had separate plans for the day. He went to the house to mow and do some laundry and I had lunch with our daughter Kyrston.  While Lee was at the house a family came because they thought the open house was on Sunday.  I have to say the fact that Lee was there when they came was a VERY fortunate coincidence and they spent 1-1/2 hours going through the house.  Lee was there to answer all their questions and I feel really really good about our chances of having a sale in the near future…fingers crossed!! We are trying not to get too excited though, because we’ve had good showings with no offers before… so we continue to wait.  We did have a great steak dinner and I made a new baked apple recipe that tasted pretty good and I think will be super fun for kids to make.  See below for the recipe.  And no matter what happens with the sale, we try to focus on the fact that we have our health, we are employed, and we love each other.  It will happen when it’s meant to happen.  I will be honest though, I have a really good feeling.

Foil Grilled Apple

  • 1 Large Baking Apple
  • 2tsp butter
  • 2 tbl sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Aluminum foil, heavy-duty

1.  Core each apple to within 1/2 inch of bottom (I did this with a small paring knife)

2.  Fill the hole in the apple with 1 tsp butter

3.  Combine sugar and cinnamon and put in hole

4.  Add 1 tsp butter on top of sugar/cinnamon mixture

5.  Wrap in heavy-duty foil

6  Place upright on low-medium coals for 25-30 minutes until soft

7.  Unwrap and eat

Stuffed apple and wrapped apple

Stuffed apple and wrapped apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooked apple

Cooked apple

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Reflections on Being an Empty-Nester and buying camper stuff

It’s been four weeks since Kay, our youngest daughter, left, and we officially became empty-nesters.  Simultaneously, because life for me seems to always include been long stretches of calm broken by perfect storms of change, there has been significant change in my work environment.  One thing I have learned is when life, God, the universe throws you this much change all at once you need to pay attention, so I have been.  Lee is my best friend in the entire world.  Not just because we are married, but also because his friendship is the longest continuous friend relationship I have had in my life.  So when things are changing I talk to him to get the outside perspective.  But because we are both dealing with no kids in the house and he also has some work changes taking place, it’s been tough for us to be that for each other.  Thankfully, I have my friend Jo to talk to.  Not only is she an incredibly warm and caring person, she is also a psychologist.  I have to tell you, having a friend who is a trained professional to talk to is pretty awesome when things get really tough.  Normally I try to just be friends and not rely on her expertise, but it was a very challenging week and so when I called her Friday..I asked if she had time for a “consultation.”  I laid out the last 4 weeks to her and she just listened, and then she told me what she heard in my voice which was incredibly helpful.  Because of the upheaval at work, I am facing three very different career options, and being able to talk to someone who is truly objective and have them help me work through it was really amazing.  The best advice she gave, and I think it’s a wonderful piece of advice for anyone going through empty nest syndrome, was to be careful with what I filled up this new “hole” in my life. That’s what it feels like when the kids leave.,.there is a hole there and something has to go in it.  Whether you’re the primary caregiver or not, a tremendous amount of time in a relationship is taken up with talking about, worrying about, dealing with, the kids.  When the kids are out on their own these conversations (if things are going well) become less and less frequent.  It’s not that we never talk about our girls, but we don’t need to talk about them all the time, which leaves us quite a bit of freed up conversation time.

So even though Lee and I have known each other for forever, that’s quite a bit of space to fill, and to be honest I was nervous about how I would fill it.  Lee has a lot of personality, energy, and is constantly in motion, but I tend to be quieter and more of a loner by nature.  Constantly surrounded by my girls and Lee, I didn’t have to work too hard to be part of the family unit.  They made it easy for me, and if anything the challenge was finding my own little piece of personal space.  Now it’s very different, there is lots of space left unfilled and I need to challenge myself to help fill it and not leave that totally up to Lee.  I hope this makes sense, essentially he can’t carry the weight of this relationship all on his own.  I need to participate at greater levels than I have needed to for years.  So what does that have to do with work?  Well, many empty nesters (men in particular) fill that space with their career.  I can see why that is appealing.  I am good at my job, and business relationships are so much easier than personal relationships in many ways because there are business rules and culture that govern them.  Personal relationships are messier and much scarier because ultimately they matter so much more.  So what Jo helped me remember is that I saw this coming over a year ago and we took steps to be prepared.  That’s one of the things that motivated us to buy the camper and spend more time with just the two of us, so when the day came that Kay left we would be somewhat prepared.  The last month I have been traveling and working away so much that I have lost sight of why we did this in the first place.  It’s tempting to fill that hole with work related things, especially when opportunities are being offered to you, but it’s important to take a step back and really think about what you want.

I love working from a five-year plan.  It helps you look at a choice you might make today, and then extrapolate out where that might take you in five years.  Many decisions that look great in the short-term won’t ultimately take you to where you want to be long-term, so it’s important to think ahead.  I know where I want to be with Lee in five years.  I know we don’t want to be in New England.  I know I want the space left by the kids to be filled with more things that are ours than his things and my things.  And I know that although my career has always been very important to me,  my career does not define who I am.  Our camping continues to show me this, because the skills I use at work are not really needed here.  Camping allows me to stop and reflect, it allows me to just be and enjoy, and most importantly, it allows me to reconnect with my husband on a level we have not experienced in years.  I love camping…it truly has changed my life and it needs to be at the center of my five-year plan.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest I can talk about the fun stuff.  We have been saving up our AmEx points and our list of want to haves and finally combined the two to purchase some things we have been wanting.  Most of the list came from visiting our friends out in Pennsylvania so we have them to thanks for the spending spree.

First, we bought some cloth coasters.  All the ones at the house are breakable so we have been using pot holders lol…not too cool.  I found some neat cloth coasters that go with our woodsy theme and Lee found these great new table mats that match the rig with the horse theme. It’s the little things in life!

New coasters I get the moose and Lee gets the bear

New coasters; I get the moose and Lee gets the bear

these are for the desk area

These coasters are for the desk area

 

 

Love Love these table mats...the horses even match the colors of our rig and they are sturdier than the other mats we had

Love, love, love these table mats…the horses even match the colors of our rig and they are sturdier than the other mats we had

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also bought a set of collapsible bowls.  I was using my old plastic ones and they take up tons of space, are a pain to hand dry.  So we took everything we might need for a party and put them in a tub and our using these new bowls and cups.  One of the neatest things is a tiny collapsible teapot.  I don’t make tea much, but thought this would be fun to have.  The mixing bowls work great, I  used them to make fried chicken last night.

And they even stack when collapsed!!

And they even nest when collapsed!!

 

Collapsible spoons, cups, and a liquid cup measurer

Collapsible spoonscups, and a liquid cup measurer

Collapsible teapot

Collapsible teapot  (Update:  I have only used this a couple of times.  Cool concept but a pan works just as well if not better)

 

Yep it’s official I am hooked on collapsible stuff! (Update: Teapot aside this is absolutely true.  I love my collapsible stuff) 

The next three items we bought because we had camper envy when we visited our friends in Pennsylvania.  It’s funny because I was never much into “keeping up with the Joneses” when living in a sticks and bricks, but camper envy is insidious..and our “must have” list grows as we see what’s working well for our friends.

Gravity chairs, because Kelly and Bill had them and they are wicked comfortable

Gravity chairsbecause Kelly and Bill had them and they are wicked comfortable (Update:  Lee loves his but I really never warmed up to mind.  Best advice try them before you buy them)

Dyson Slim Line sweeper which Jo and Ben have and loved. The price tag was high but it works great and fits right in our little coat closet area

Dyson Slim Line sweeper which Jo and Ben have and loved. The price tag was high but it works great, and fits right in our little coat closet area!

 

Finally, we replaced our cookware with a nesting Magma set that Cori and Greg have.  Everything nests neatly together in one cabinet and there are removable and interchangeable handles and lids.  Really smart and fits in a very small space…plus they work on an induction burner which we are planning on getting sometime in the future…again because Cory and Greg have one…it’s a sickness!

 

All wrapped up and perfect for moving in an RV

All wrapped up and perfect for moving in an RV

Everything separated

Everything separated

 

So we were happier (but much poorer in AmEx points) this weekend with all our new stuff.  One thing though is whenever you buy something you need to get rid of something else and some reorganization was called for.  The cookware is in a bottom cabinet where it is easily accessible, and some other items were moved around.  It’s a good rule of thumb for us that whatever comes in something else has to go out!!

Saturday night I tried a dinner with three brand new items.  Usually I don’t take on that many new recipes at the same time, but I have been wanting to try fried chicken in cast iron skillet I got at the rally in Tennessee and thought “Why not?”.  Lee declared the meal an A+ and every recipe made the cut.  Plus I was really proud the chicken turned out so well.  I have never made fried chicken in a skillet in my life, seen it done often but never taken it on myself, and it turned out really well. Can’t wait to try it again and experiment with other recipes.

 

Recipes 

Classic Southern Fried Chicken 

  • 4-6 chicken legs (smaller legs are better)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 TBL Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1 TBL pepper
  • 16 oz solid Crisco vegetable shortening
  1. Rinse chicken and pat dry place on baking sheet
  2. Whisk eggs and milk until well blended in one bowl
  3. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a separate bowl
  4. Dunk a chicken leg in the egg mixture then dredge in flour mix.  Place leg on baking sheet and repeat until all legs are coated
  5. Place coated chicken in refrigerator for 30 minutes – 12 hours the refrigerator time helps seal the coating to the chicken
  6. In a 12″ cast iron skillet melt shortening and heat until 365 degrees (I heated until water drops in the oil caused a pop)
  7. Add all chicken; brown on side then turn and brown.  Watch closely and turn frequently once initial browning is complete.
  8. Use meat thermometer to ensure chicken is at 170 degrees internal temperature.  Takes 20-30 minutes
Chicken in the cast iron skiller

Chicken in the cast iron skillet

  

 Baby Carrots with Dill

  • 12 oz baby carrots
  • 2 TBL butter melted
  • Fresh Dill
  1. Cook baby carrots in boiling water until tender 10-15 minutes
  2. Drain carrots and place in serving bowl
  3. Add melted butter and toss until carrots are coated
  4. Place snipped fresh dill sprigs on dish
Baby Carrots with fresh dill

Baby Carrots with fresh dill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Time Having Rally Friends at the Campsite

What a fantastic weekend!!!  Our friends Jo and Ben who we met in the rally came to visit us and we had an amazing time.  Jo and Ben are both nurses and Jo is also a psychologist (which comes in handy as I am dealing with empty nest syndrome and house selling stress lol).  They decided they wanted to try travel nursing so they sold their house in the mountains near Colorado (in three days grrr) and started working on the road out of their Arctic Fox.  They are very experienced campers but new to the Full Time RV lifestyle and picked the coast of Maine as their first assignment.  Ben is a trauma nurse so it’s easier for him to find contracts, but it was a bit tougher for Jo as she is not licensed as a psychologist in Maine and had not practiced nursing in a year or so.  Plus people think postcard New England ,and it is beautiful, but culturally and environmentally it’s quite a bit different from the wide spaces of the west they are used to.

Luckily we can relate.  Even though we have lived here for 14 years, it’s still very different from the Midwest environment we are used to.  The main thing about New England if you have to think in terms of the 5 states (New Hampshire, Mass, Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island).  There are lots of cool stuff to do, but you need to cover all the states to see everything.  They’ve been staying pretty close to home in Maine, but we gave them some of our favorites including Newport, RI, Mount Washington, and Stowe Vermont.  Those are places we have gone back to over and over and still enjoy.  They did get to see Moosehead Lake and saw a family of moose, which I am incredibly jealous of, and had a wonderful camping experience new Acadia National park.  Not only do they have their 5th wheel but they also have a second truck with a pop-up camper on the back.  They take the little truck (with their two dogs) everywhere and it allows them to boon dock and reach areas they could never get to with the big trailer…brilliant!!

Jo and Anubis the sweetest 12 year old rescue dog

Jo and Anubis the sweetest 12-year-old rescue dog

 

Ben and Peyton a beautiful Malamute rescue who is high spirited but very friendly

Ben and Peyton a beautiful Malamute rescue who is high-spirited but very friendly

 

We spent Saturday talking to Jo and Ben from 9am to 10 pm and never ran out of things to talk about.  We are fascinated by their new lifestyle and what it takes to work on the road.  It’s a weird dynamic because despite what it looks like  you are not on vacation.  You take your real life issues with you, but you have a freedom and flexibility that few who live in a sticks and bricks house will ever know.  Most of the couples we met at the rally are either retired or have sufficient investments that working is somewhat optional.  Jo and Ben are still carrying some student debt so working is a requirement for them.  It was great talking to them though because despite the challenges they are making it work and I find them extremely inspirational as a couple.  Plus they are both really interesting people and very fun to hang out with.

Jo brought haddock with her straight from a dockside stand close to Kennebunkport where they are staying.    I went to the local farm around the corner from our house and bought all the fresh vegetables they had so we had a fantastic meal.  I made this yummy salad with fresh lettuce (amazing), radishes, and green onions straight from the ground.

Farm fresh salad with Olive Garden dressing

Farm fresh salad with Olive Garden dressing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been wanting to learn how to cook fish on the grill..and Ben is a super fisherman…so Jo marinated it and Ben set to showing me how to cook it.  One problem, the Coleman grill we have only used twice would not stay lit…so Ben and Lee troubleshoot it while Jo and I laughed a lot.  The wine made things quite merry 🙂  Here’s some pictures showing the troubleshooting and how it stopped working in mid-grilling and we had to move the fish to the fire and then back again to the grill once they got it going again.  Despite the cooking crazy the fish was amazing!!!

Ben cooking the fish

Ben cooking the fish

Grill stops working

Grill stops working

 

DSC02051

Ben’s trying to fix it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo always cool steps in to save the fish

Jo always cool steps in to save the fish

Jo and Ben transferring fish back to grill...thank heavens they are nurses see the surgical precision of the transfer It's like it was a transplant heart

Jo and Ben transferring fish back to grill…thank heavens they are nurses…. see the surgical precision of the transfer It’s like it was a transplant heart  🙂

 

Right after dinner we got a call from Kelly and Bill and Cori and Greg.  They were two other couples we had met at the rally and coincidentally were getting together Saturday night.  I know I’ve said it before but the quality of the friendships we made from the rally are beyond anything I have ever experienced in a group setting.  We all love the same things. We will be driving up to visit them in Maine in a few weeks and four couples will be meeting in Pennsylvania in August.  Also many of us have signed up for the RV-Dreams reunion rally in May.  Love, love, love these friends!!

Lessons Learned

  • You can use tortilla chips or Doritos as fire starters. Seriously we tried it and they burn great and for a while.  Potato chips on the other hand not so much
  • Check out TravelTax.com for an accountant Jo and Ben recommends who specializes in providing tax assistance to people who travel and work.

 

Barb’s Cucumber Salad

This is super simple and one of Lee’s all time favorites.  or best taste use farmer’s market cucumbers. 

  • 2 medium-sized cucumbers
  • 1 small white onion or half of a medium-sized
  • 1 cup mayonnaise you can substitute lite mayo or Miracle Whip but I like to use the real stuff
  • 1/3 cup of cider vinegar
  • Pepper
  1. Cut off ends of cucumbers and then use knife to cut a portion of the peel on the outside…2-3 long slices not required just makes it look a little prettier
  2. Cut thin slices of cucumber
  3. Cut onion into small squares about 1″ or long slivers
  4. Mix onions and cucumbers in a plastic bowl with a lid
  5. Add Mayonnaise
  6. Add cider vinegar
  7. Sprinkle with pepper
  8. Place lid on bowl and shake
  9. Open and sprinkler more pepper
  10. Shake again.  Continue until you can see some pepper flakes in the sauce.
Barb's Cucumber Salad

Barb’s Cucumber Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben’s Grilled Haddock

  • 2 pounds haddock as fresh as you can find (you can also use halibut or tilapia)
  • 8 TBL Olive Oil
  • 2 TBL Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Basil you can double to taste
  • 1 tsp Parsley you can double to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Foil
  1. Mix all ingredients (except for fish and foil); blend well
  2. Place marinade in large Ziploc Freezer bag
  3. Place fish in bag
  4. Shake gently to cover fish with marinade
  5. Marinade 30 minutes
  6. Place fish on foil sheet and the cover with another piece of foil sealing the edges tightly to make a packet
  7. Place fish on pre heated grill over medium heat and shut lid
  8. Cook for 5 minutes, turn packet, and cook for another 5 minutes
  9. Remove from grill and serve.

 

Fish before we wrapped it in foil

Fish before we wrapped it in foil

Fish after being cooked

Fish after being cooked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Time Having Guests at the Seasonal Site

 

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks since we got back from the rally.  I have worked out-of-town both weeks and the weekend in between we finished getting our house ready to sell.   We definitely did NOT want to miss the Memorial Day weekend house hunting traffic, so we scheduled two open houses; one on Saturday, and one on Sunday.  The downside was no camper time while we got it ready for that.  Lee snuck out a couple of times and setup some basics and he put the new reclining love seat in and removed the original couch, but there was still lots of work waiting us when we hit the campsite Friday night.  The first day and a half was spent squaring things away and it was weird unpacking for a seasonal stay versus moving around all the time.  When you’re on the go everything is placed for ease of packing up and making sure it’s secure.  When you’re stationary you can put anything you want wherever you want, which is nice, but totally different from the rally arrangement.  While I situated things Lee worked on the support box under the couch.  In the pictures below you can see we bought a love seat with zero clearance so each side can tilt back and out.  It’s SUPER comfortable but does look pretty weird in that small a space.  That being said I don’t regret the purchase at all and until we can get to Amish country and buy a custom couch I am super happy.   I started down the path of thinking where would guests sit…how it looked etc, but as Lee quickly mentioned guests will mainly be outside and “Do you want to be comfortable or not?”  The man had a point and once I sat in it I was sold…slightly weird looking or not.  One last note Lee built a box for below the couch because the new one sticks out a little farther than the old one, so it needed something to rest on. The box didn’t look very good until he removed the padding and leather from the old couch and used it to upholster the new base. It looks great.  The man is a genius!! (It’s true. I am a genius. – Lee)

Here's the wooden box he built

Here’s the wooden box he built

Finished box on the bottom

Finished box on the bottom

My daughter Kay curled on the couch

My daughter Kay curled on the couch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That was the other thing..my daughter who is 18 gave up her Friday night and came out to visit us right after work.  It was so fun, we had hot dogs and marshmallows and she kept us entertained all night with weird facts from an app her phone has. She’s a good girl and it was sweet she came to hang out.  The lack of wifi was a bit of a bummer for her though.

One of my other favorite things was I got my rock collection sorted out.  I like rocks and have collected neat ones in all my travels.  I really thought I was going to have to give up my rock collection…partly for weight and partly because vision of rocks flying around the camper was giving me nightmares.  Lee and my in-laws all threw themselves behind solving my rock problem though (so sweet) and helped me find these very nice plastic containers at The Container Store.  I will be able to strap these in when we move and I now have three different rock carriers with plenty of space for more to come!!  I don’t know about you, but it’s the little things in life that give me true joy…so thanks to Lee, DeDe and especially Denny for helping me make this happen. (If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend The Container Store. It’s my personal mecca. The have anything you need for putting anything into anything. They even have little boxes you can put littler boxes into. – Lee)

My rock collection...left to right Gold...Black...Red

My rock collection…left to right Gold…Black…Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally on Saturday Lee hung my Audrey Hepburn picture (which I fretted would not work and make the room smaller and turned out to be perfect) and covered the cabinet mirrors with Artscape Window Film.  I really hated the fact that the cabinets across from the bed had mirrors for a variety of reasons…not the least of which is that I am not that crazy at looking at myself all the time. (I am not nearly as happy as she is about it. Who doesn’t want a wall of mirrors facing the bed???  Bow chicka bow bow, baby. – Lee) So I did some research and found a window cling at Home Depot.  We weren’t sure what it would look like on a mirror since it’s made to go on a window, but Lee, ever practical, said buy one roll and if it doesn’t work you’re only out $22.  Not only did it work…it completely surpassed my expectations…LOVE LOVE  LOVE it.   And, again, the room does not look smaller which was a concern.  So here’s my updated bedroom thanks to my great handy-man hubby. (The Artscape window film is really easy to work with, and looks great on windows, and apparently, mirrors, although the more colorful and detailed patterns probably wouldn’t look as good on a mirror as a simple etched or frosted glass look. All you do is rough-cut it to fit, spray the glass with water that has just a few drops of liquid soap in it, and then position it and squeegee it until there are no air bubbles or water left. There’s no adhesive, it just works based on the laws of fluid mechanics. Or magic. Then you use a very sharp razor knife to trim the edge, and sit back and enjoy the adulation and kisses from whoever you did it for. Hanging a picture is even easier and hardly ever requires squeegeeing anything, so the work-to-kisses ratio is more in your favor. – Lee)

 

My Audrey Hepburn poster

My Audrey Hepburn picture

Before and after with mirrors

Before and after with mirrors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee at work

Lee at work

Finished product looks so much better

Finished product looks so much better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday night we had our friends Georgia and Jim over.  They had not seen the campsite yet and we were happy to be ready to share it.  I went with hot dogs and chips but I did make my Mom’s amazing potato salad.  Usually I’m lazy and buy a vastly inferior product at the grocery store, but making a small batch for just the four of us was super easy and it lasts well in the fridge.  I have the recipe at the bottom if you want to try it out.  It’s truly yummy delicious.  I also have been looking for years for that hot dogs that mimic those of my childhood memories and I finally found them.  Jordan’s Ball Game Treats are very inexpensive and taste just like the hot dogs I ate when I was a kid.  I am sure they are terrible for you…but I’ll take a good ole basic hot dog over one of those fancy ones any day. (Fancy hot dogs??? What the hell are fancy hot dogs? I don’t think she knows what hot dogs are made of. – Lee)

Oh I also keep forgetting to mention Lee put up a bird feeder on the window that Dede and Denny gave us and a hummingbird feeder.  We have had friends in both along our travels and since they are right outside my desk window I can sit and watch without scaring them away.  I included the hummingbird feeder mixture in the recipe section because it’s easy to make but I keep forgetting the ratio.

 

Bird feeder and hummingbird feeder outside my desk window

Bird feeder and hummingbird feeder outside my desk window

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia and Jim (two of our best friends) came over and we had a great time.  Their son worked for Lee and he is the son we never had.  He chose the same career field as Lee and is doing very well in it so we had a very enjoyable night talking about our kids, our plans for the future, and of course showing off our new camper 🙂  It was also cool that despite having intermittent rain all weekend it was perfectly dry all night.    Thanks so much Georgia and Jim for helping us kick off our seasonal summer!!  Look forward to many more nights by the fire.

Speaking of the campsite here are the pictures of the campsite and our friends Georgia and Jim.

Campsite at night

Campsite at night

DSC01811

 

 

Kay and Lee hanging out by the fire

Kay and Lee hanging out by the fire

Big rock on our site

Big rock on our site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very well wooded love that...we have neighbors but can barely see them through the tress

Very well wooded site.. love that…we have neighbors but can barely see them through the tress

 Connie’s Best Ever Potato Salad

1.  Peel potatoes and cut into 4-5 pieces

2.  Boil covered until you can easily cut through with a butter knife but remove before mushy.  Rinse with cool water

3.  Boil eggs and allow both eggs and potatoes to cool

4.  Use a fork to mix egg yolks, mayo, mustard, and good seasons

5.  Mix potatoes, green onions, and egg whites

6.  Mix dressing into potato mixture gently stirring.

7.  Refrigerate until served (best if made the night before)

Connie's Best Potato Salad Ever

Connie’s Best  Ever Potato Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hummingbird Feeder Solution

  • 1 part sugar (must be the real deal)
  • 4 parts water

Stir well prior to filling up the feeder

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First Time Feeding A Chipmunk

It’s been awhile since we’ve been camping.  My father-in-law was in town visiting and we missed a couple of weekends of camping. Since it was a short weekend, we decided to go back to the very first campground we visited,  Swanzey Lake Campground , and see how we liked it after all of our other experiences.  It was more crowded than I remembered, and noisier so I think I will be downgrading it a pine cone, but we still enjoyed our stay.

First off, we were out of practice.  The easy routine we had developed after the last couple of months was definitely missing, although once we setup things were definitely smoother.   The best part was we made friends with a very feisty chipmunk Lee named Ralph.  We had a bag of peanuts Lee was feeding him and he got so brazen that he was all over our campsite.  Lee is a videographer by trade and he put together this short video to show Ralph at his finest 🙂

IMG_0283

IMG_0319

 

I also had read something about making my own fire starters out of pine cones dipped into paraffin wax and wanted to give it a try. Finding the pine cones, melting the wax, and then dipping was a very fun hour or so.  Not sure how well they will work but it was a fun thing to do and I felt very industrious and thrifty while doing it.  I hate paying what they charge for fire starters, so I hope these work.  Update:  They didn’t really work which was a shame because it was fun.  If you’re looking for a thrifty alternative to fire starters tortilla chips or Doritos work pretty well. 

My favorite part of the weekend( besides snuggling of course) was just hanging out and really relaxing.  It has been awhile since I have felt the particular relaxation that comes with camping and I missed it.  I also cooked three new recipes and they were all a big hit which is always great.  See below for the specifics if you are interested.  Next weekend a visit to the big RV show in Hershey PA to look at fifth wheels and the week of the 23rd it’s our first week-long camping trip, driving out to see our daughter in Minneapolis, MN and maybe our first experience with boon docking.  Stay Tuned!!!

Lessons Learned

  • Your experience in the same campground may vary from trip to trip
  • Dipping pine cones into paraffin wax is a fun and economical) way to make fire starters

 

Sausage Stuffed Biscuits with Country Gravy

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice sausage into 1/2″ patties
  3. Lightly brown each patty on both sides in a medium skillet over medium low heat (They do not need to be cooked through)
  4. Unwrap biscuits and gently separate into 2 pieces on sprayed cookie sheet
  5. Place a sausage patty on the bottom part of the biscuit then lay the top of the biscuit on the patty.  Gently mold the top biscuit half so it is around the patty. (It doesn’t need to be perfect)
  6. Cook sandwich in oven for 14 minutes
  7. Make sausage gravy per packet instructions
  8. Place sandwich on plate and cover with sausage gravy

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