Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

The RV lifestyle can be as social or anti-social as one chooses. I know lots of RVer’s who engage in activities regularly with fellow traveler’s and even go so far as to caravan together. Others prefer solitude and rarely socialize with their fellow RVer. It’s all about personal preference.

For Al and I, we’ve discovered the middle of the road is the perfect fit for us. We’ll go weeks without socializing enjoying our solitude, and then we’ll find ourselves in a location where we embrace multiple get togethers…. quite often with folks we’ve never met before. And this is how complete strangers become friends.

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

Our socializing usually centers around hiking and eating. Although it’s fun to meet up at a local restaurant or brewery, we prefer pot lucks around a picnic table or at someone’s home.

Wonderful friendships have been made at campgrounds and through clubs like Escapees, but most surprising are the friendships we’ve forged through the blogosphere with RVer’s AND non-RVer’s a like. When I started this little thing called a blog, I never imaged it would lead to some genuine friendships. It has and I’m ever so grateful 😁

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares Bars

For those of us that travel, it’s so much fun running into a fellow Blogger in one state and then reconnecting months later in another state. Most times these re-connections are serendipitous.

Over the years, we’ve met some of the most culinary talented folks and shared some very flavorful meals together. Occasionally the sharing of recipes ensues and the scribbled notes get passed around. That’s exactly how I came about this Blueberry Oatmeal Square recipe, and it has become one of my all time favorite go to dishes to bring to a get together.

Smucker's Blueberry preserve recipes

It’s super easy to make and because it has oatmeal in it, we know it’s healthy (she says while winking). The fact that it’s calorie-laden with refined sugars and flour is irrelevant. Oatmeal equal healthy, and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I belong to a few “RV” related Facebook groups and a common question that seems to pop up is about whether an oven in the RV is necessary? A lot of RV’s only have a convection/microwave combo unit. I love my little propane oven, and since I enjoy baking and use my easy bake RV oven often, I couldn’t live without it. I’m sure many of you have perfected convection/micro baking, and I congratulate you, but I’ll stick with my propane oven that doubles as additional storage when not in use.

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

And since many of my friends know I enjoy baking, I’m the one they count on to bring the dessert to those get togethers.

So the next time you’re getting together with friends and need to bring a dish/dessert to share, give these Blueberry Oatmeal Squares a try, and be sure you tell your friends to indulge because they’re healthy …. Ingrid said so!

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares

  • Servings: 20
  • Print

Blueberry Oatmeal Squares1 3/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 jar of blueberry preserves (I use 3/4’s of an 18 ounce jar of Smucker’s Blueberry preserves)

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter just enough until the butter is broken down and incorporated with the ingredients. Add in the oats and with your hands mix well. Press half the mixture into a buttered 13-by-9 inch rectangular shaped baking pan. Top the dough with the preserves, spreading evenly. Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over preserves and then press down lightly.

Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree pre-heated oven. Once cooled, cut into squares.

A couple of products I used …. (affiliate links)

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Advertisements

How to Pick the Perfect RV

How do you pick the perfect RV for your personal needs? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

But before we get into the meat of the post, let me take a step back …. a few weeks ago my daughter wanted me to meet the parents of one of her friends. You see, these folks were contemplating selling their house and moving into an RV full-time, but didn’t know the first thing about RVing …. total newbies.

on the road againAfter a three-hour luncheon, I had inundated this couple with so much information that their heads were spinning. To make a long story short, eventually, I recommended that they rent at least one RV. They wouldn’t have to travel far, just spend a couple of nights in a nearby state park and test things out. Figure out what they liked, didn’t like, and how they felt about the overall RV experience.

RVing is not for everyone, and buying the wrong RV can be a very costly endeavor. Remember, RVs are a depreciating asset. It’s really easy to get caught up in all the pretty bells, horns, and whistles on an RV Dealership lot, especially with an encouraging salesperson eager to spend your money, only to walk away with something that doesn’t fit your personal goals and will lead to unhappy travels.

Try before you buy

An RV is a hefty investment. And, like any good consumer, you should do your research before investing in one. While RVs offer a freer, more fulfilled lifestyle, they can also be a significant strain on your bank account. If you purchase one frivolously, it could turn out to be a nightmare of an expense that you’ll be paying off for many years to come. Thankfully, renting an RV before you commit is a great way to find out if ownership is right for you.

classes o RV's

Various ways to rent an RV

More than 9 million Americans own RVs. More people are buying RVs today than ever before, but sadly, roughly 90% of RVs sit unused for most of the year. The RV’s gather dust while ownership costs accumulate. A peer-to-peer rental networks like RV share.com or Outdoorsy.com can help owners and renters alike. Owners can rent out their RVs and supplement their income, and renters get to try before they buy.

RVing in Moab Utah

Considerations

You wouldn’t buy a house without making sure it met your needs first, would you? Therefore, it’s really important you do your research when buying an RV. Considering that some RVs can cost as much as a house or more, it makes sense to rent an RV first. Here’s why:

● Renting an RV isn’t difficult or expensive. Depending on the type of RV you rent, you can find rates starting at $80 per day. It’s a small price to pay for the experience.

Grand Tetons National Park● You’ll start learning to see through the eyes of an RV’er. Whether you’re considering buying an RV to live in or to use for weekend camping, you’ll need to know how to downsize and prioritize. Renting an RV for a few days will help you change your perspective and learn how to pack for RV living.

● You’ll learn a lot about how RVs work. This is knowledge you absolutely must have if you want to buy an RV. You need to know how to dump and clean the tanks, maintain the batteries, make minor repairs to appliances, use the slide outs and leveling jacks, and much more. Even a short weekend RV rental will enlighten you to the necessary skills you need to own an RV.

● You’ll figure out which type of RV is best for you. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars on an RV, only to find out it’s too difficult to drive or too small to fit your family?  By renting an RV, you’ll get to try out a variety of different types and sizes, so you can determine what you like and don’t like.

● You’ll get some driving (and lifestyle) practice. Traveling in an RV is a skill in and of itself. You need to plan your routes and campground stays carefully; but you also need to be able to adapt to changes quickly. Taking a road trip in a rented RV will teach you how to be organized and prepared, and how to think on your feet.

RVing Dillon Colorado

How to Choose the Right RV to Rent

Before you rent, you should narrow down your list of potential RVs. There are millions of different RVs out there, each with their own features, floor plans, and price points. Ask yourself the following questions to help you find some good rental candidates:

● Would you rather tow or drive your RV? Towables are more affordable, roomier, and can be left at the campground if you need to run into town for errands. On the other hand, motorized RVs are much easier to drive, and thus more comfortable for many.

Steamboat Lake Colorado● How many people will travel with you? Small trailers and Class B vans are perfect for two people, plus they’re affordable and easy to drive.

Mid-sized RVs, usually between 25 to 30 feet, are good for three or four people. Anything over 35 feet in length is considered large and good for big families or if a couple is considering living in the RV full-time.

● How important is privacy to you? RVs with separate bunks and bedrooms (like Class C’s and large Fifth Wheels) give everyone their own personal space. If privacy isn’t an issue, convertible dinettes and sofa beds might be enough.

● Do you plan on dry camping a lot, or do you prefer campground stays? Maybe you’re not sure. If you like the idea of camping under the stars and away from the crowds, you’ll want an RV that’s adequately equipped for boondocking. Features like solar panels, large holding tanks, and a good-sized generator are key.

● Finally, how do you plan on paying for your RV? Generally, you won’t be able to finance an RV that’s 15 years old or older. So, while older RVs are more affordable, you’ll need to either pay in cash or take out a personal loan to buy one. New RVs can be financed, but can cost close to $100,000 or more. If you’re looking for a middle-ground, look for RVs that are about 10 years old and come with financing. But keep in mind, some private RV parks have RV age restrictions. Usually the cutoff is around 10 years old. The park will want to make sure your RV still looks good before guaranteeing a site.

RVing in Moab Utah

Once you’ve narrowed down your list, start looking for two or three different RVs to try out. Experiment with different types of floor plans and features. Maybe you test out a large Class A with slide outs one weekend, then rent a mid-sized Class C the next. This way, you’ll get a sense of how it feels to drive different types of RVs and how well the layouts suit your needs.

Hit the road and explore

RVing is a great way to travel and see the country, but the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I, personally, can’t imagine traveling any other way. Have you ever rented an RV to test out the RVing adventure? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

RVing Grand Tetons National Park

***********************************************

Reversible Mats

Thank you for supporting this site and shopping Amazon affiliate links.

Grilling an Awesome Burger

Do you ever get bored eating the same old meals over and over? Al and I really enjoy a good old-fashioned hamburger, but the usual burger time and again just doesn’t get us excited about eating … snore. Yep, it’s easy for food boredom to set in. Wanting to take it up a notch and take the ho-hum out of my everyday hamburger, I searched the internet for ideas.

Green Chili burgers
Hatch Green Chili Hamburgers

I started playing around with different ingredients that would hopefully incorporate some exciting yet tasty flavors.  I had some successes and some near failures. I wanted something out of the ordinary, but flavors that would mesh well with our individual palettes. Keep in mind, Al and I are originally from northern Illinois where it’s all about corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Peppers and chilies weren’t ingredients we grew up with in Illinois. I’m sure times have changed and peppers are much more common these days, but thirty to forty years ago chilies weren’t a part of our diet or products we’d easily find growing in the fields. I know, our mother’s certainly never used green chilies. I’m not even sure they knew what they were. So a couple of months ago when I returned from the grocery store with a little can of green chilies, my husband wondered what the heck I was up to. To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure myself how I’d feel about the taste of these unusual, to me, ingredient.

grilled burgers and asparagus
green chili burgers with grilled asparagus and sweet orange bell pepper.

Well let me tell you, these burgers are so awesome that they’ve become the norm around the RV, and when we get together with the kids, they even request these flavorful green chili burgers.

They are so darn tasty, that a bun isn’t required. Since we loosely follow a Paleo diet and avoid bread, we usually eat our burgers in a lettuce wrap. Add a side of grilled veggies and can you say, ‘yum’!

Green Chili burgersLast year we spent a couple of weeks hanging around Santa Fe, New Mexico. Not only did we fall in love with the eclectic city, we fell in love with the food and learned a lot about peppers and chilies.

I swear, Santa Fe has the best farmer’s market … at least the best farmer’s market I’ve ever been to.  Unbeknownst to us, we timed our excursion to Santa Fe perfectly last August during pepper / chili season. Ah, the smell of roasting peppers.

New Mexico is known for producing the best peppers and chilies in the United States. I’m still not sure if there’s a difference between a pepper and a chili because I was given mixed opinions on the subject. Thus, I’ll leave that question as a quest for a future visit to Santa Fe … not that I need an excuse for a revisit …. this farmer’s market is reason enough!

But my pepper and chili education didn’t end in Santa Fe. I’m a cookbook junkie and unfortunately the RV doesn’t allow space to collect books like I used to. Thus, I now rely on local libraries to satisfy my cookbook addiction. Most recently I picked up a copy of Freddie Prinze Jr.’s cookbook – Back to the Kitchen: 75 Delicious, Real Recipes  from a Food-Obsessed Actor. The actor grew up in New Mexico and shares his love affair with chili’s grown in his home state. Awesome … I learned even more about New Mexico and their agricultural specialty.

Although I would never consider myself a pepper or chili expert, since becoming enlightened, I now make it a point to purchase Hatch chiles whenever possible. These ‘hatch‘ chiles are grown in Hatch, New Mexico … go figure … and are undoubtedly known as the best chilies in the country. We’ll attest to that. They are indeed quite tasty. And this coming from a  couple of former Midwesterner’s with northern European heritage. Boy, our taste buds sure have changed over the years.

Travel is enlightening in so many ways. We see amazing scenery, meet extraordinary people, and discover unique culinary delights. How fun! Never in a million years would I have envisioned my German/Norwegian husband eagerly popping samples of sauteed peppers in his mouth at the Sante Fe farmer’s market. “Where is my husband, and what have you done with him?” 😆🌶🌽

THE WORLD IS A BOOK, AND THOSE WHO DO NOT TRAVEL READ ONLY ONE PAGE – ST. AUGUSTINE

So how bout it …. are you ready to take your burgers up a notch?

Awesome Green Chili HamburgerGreen Chili Burgers 
Ingredients
– 1 Pound lean ground beef
– 1/2 can of Hatch green chili’s, drained
– 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 1/8 teaspoon cumin
– 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for the ground beef. Once all ingredients are well incorporated, toss in the ground beef and mix together well. Divide beef into four equal amounts and patty out into burgers. Grill to desired temperature and serve on a toasted bun or wrapped in lettuce leaves.

Hope you give these burgers a try and enjoy them as much as we do! Let me know if you do make’m and if you made any tasty changes ☺  Update – I now add the whole can of Hatch chilies to the burger meat. We’re totally into these peppers!


Cuisinart CNP-410 Non-Stick Grilling Platter, 10 by 10-Inch

affiliate links contained in this post!

Wildlife on the Trail?

Would you know what to do if you came face to face with wildlife on the trail? Obviously, a lot depends on exactly what kind of animal we’re talking about.  A marmot would have me stopping in my tracks to snap a bunch of photos all the while baby talking to it and letting him know how darn cute he is.

A snake on the other hand gets my heart pounding while exclaiming, “Oh sh*t!” but of course still managing to take a quick snapshot 🐍😮 (which I don’t recommend)

rattlesnake
coming face to face with a rattlesnake on the trail

Even though I should already know the answer(s) considering my past wildlife encounters, lately I find the need to evaluate my trail safety savviness and ask myself, “What should I do if ….. ?” The reason for my review pertains to my recent encounter with a rattlesnake on the trail last week. This was my second time having a close encounter with a diamondback and I’m hoping it’s my last, but when you spend as much time hiking in their habitat as I do, chances are we’ll meet again.

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona
Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

So what did I do when I heard that unmistakable sound only a diamondback rattlesnake can make? My tale about his tail ….

Willow Lake, Prescott, ArizonaLast Thursday was a glorious day offering a much wanted reprieve from the every day rainstorms. However, it is monsoon season here in Arizona and the moisture is very much-needed in this arid climate.

With the sunny blue skies, it didn’t take me long to lace up my hiking shoes and head on over to the Granite Dells area for an exploratory hike with the camera.

I chose an out and back hike at Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona. The trail started off like any other dirt hiking trail, but soon I found myself scrambling across huge boulders and using the white spray painted dots to guide me along the trail.

hiking Willow Lake, Prescott trails, Arizona
white dots highlighting trail

I was a mere fifteen minutes into the hike when the trail went up rather steeply and I began wondering what I had gotten myself into.

To maintain my balance, I leaned forward toward the boulder and steadied myself with one hand on the ground as I climbed following the white spray painted dots.

I continued to pay close attention to those dots as to not veer off the trail. I was focused on my footing and my where abouts and of course the obligatory photo taking.

About 20 to 25 minutes into the hike, the trail had taken me up and over some beautiful scenery. I was enjoying myself and getting in a great workout. The trail had dipped down only for it to head back up over a rock outcropping. I was slightly winded as I climbed and just as the boulder leveled off, there was an unmistakable sound to my right.

diamondback rattlesnake
Is it just me, but I see shoes? I find his skin beautiful … the repetitive pattern, texture, and color is stunning.

“Oh sh*t, not again!!!” There off to my right about 10 to 12 feet away was a rather large diamondback rattlesnake in strike position. Tail was up and rattling. Head was up with tongue dancing. I slowly and gingerly kept walking (which I felt was my safest and quickest option).

Within seconds, he settled down and both of us no longer felt threatened. I quickly, and I mean quickly, snapped a couple of photos while admiring his unique beauty.  Hmm, years ago I owned a pair of snake skin shoes with a similar texture. At the time, I lived in the Chicago area and had never seen a snake in the wild.

For some reason, I kept thinking about those shoes and soon came to the conclusion that it would somehow feel very wrong to me owning a pair of snake skin shoes. Although I didn’t appreciate the encounter on the trail, I do appreciate wildlife and that beautifully textured skin belongs in the wild and not on my feet.

diamondback rattlesnake
I was hiking from left to right when I met Mr. Diamondback
diamondback snake
guess I wasn’t the only one on the move.
rattlesnake
As I was hiking from the left and coming over the ridge, I was more focused on my footing and potential critters in the rock crevices which is why I didn’t immediately notice the snake sunning himself near the ledge.

For a brief second, I thought about hanging around for more photo-ops. He was rather large and a good-looking snake at that, but thank goodness my better judgement took over.  Although he and I seemed to have come to an understanding, you never know what might provoke the guy. He is a snake after all and unpredictable. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I am afraid of being bitten by a snake.

I continued on my hike and once I was on the other side of the ravine, I looked back to see if the snake was still there.

Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona
Looking across the ravine to see if the snake is still on the trail.

I certainly felt somewhat relieved seeing Mr. Diamondback on the move. Remember, I have to hike back this way 😲 This rattlesnake encounter did take some of the joy out of the rest of my hike and I was almost ready to call it quits, but I’m a stubborn gal and I was on a mission to see the red bridge. Thus, it was onward and upward …. figuratively AND literally.

hiking Prescott trails, Arizona
Eek – all those nifty places for snakes to hide. “Please Lord no more diamondback encounters”.
Red Bridge Willow Lake Prescott, Arizona
The red bridge looks more pinkish than red thanks to the Arizona sun

I made it to my destination; the red bridge. I was tempted to continue hiking a little further, and probably would have had it not been for the snake encounter. It was already 85 degrees Fahrenheit at ten in the morning. With the heat and sun shining, this was ideal snake weather and one diamondback meet up was more than enough.

Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona
Red Bridge – Willow Lake, Prescott, Arizona

After a little rest and several photographs later, it was time to turn around and retrace my steps. To say I was on edge or a little jumpy would be an understatement. Each little rustling of vegetation from lizards or grasshoppers would have me whipping my head around in search for the cause of said movement, and lets not even talk about the sounds of crickets or birds.

lizardgrasshopper

 

 

 

 

 

It really was a beautiful day and Willow Lake is a wonderful place to hike, but I couldn’t relax and enjoy the return hike. I was on edge and just wanted to get back to my car.

Prescott trails
I laid my pack down next to the white trail marker to help show the grade – steepness

I navigated the areas of the trail where I was concerned about the steepness of the boulders with a quickness and ease that surprised me. And to think, earlier I thought I’d be scooching back down this trail on my derriere.

Willow Lake trail Prescott, Arizona
follow the white dots – hiking up to see if Mr. Snake is still there!!!

When I retraced my steps on the trail near the rattlesnake encounter, I felt nervous and heard a large sound in my ears. It was a familiar sound, yet unfamiliar. It was so loud that it nearly drowned out the sounds of birds chirping. I stopped for a second to figure out what it was and soon realized it was the pounding of my heart.  “Geez, Ingrid. Get a grip. It’s only a snake”.  “Ah, but not any old snake”, I replied to myself.

critters on the trail
careful of sneaky critters on the trail!

Okay, now I’m talking to myself.  I vowed, when I got home, I’d do some Googling and investigate what to do when encountering wildlife. I felt pretty sure of myself and what to do, but a little review might be helpful and perhaps make me feel a bit more confident in the future.

hiking in Prescott, Arizona
The stick on the trail made me jump thinking it was a snake

I made it past the rattlesnake sighting only to have a hornet keep buzzing around me. Must’ve been the sweet nectar oozing from my pores. Between the heat, blazing sun, and nervous fear this gal, who normally doesn’t sweat, was sweating indeed.

And although I managed to avoid a snake bite or hornet sting, I did return to the RV with a dozen itchy tiny welts from mosquitoes.

At least these were itty bitty mosquitoes when compared to the huge ones found in Minnesota.

hiking in Prescott Arizona

So here are my thoughts on safety guidelines. Although today I’m talking about wildlife, I use the same personal guidelines when visiting a city. Thus, whether I’m in the wilderness surrounded by boulders and vegetation or in a metropolitan area surrounded by concrete and roads, a little street smarts goes a long way.

  • learn an animals habits and potential dangers
  • stay calm and back away slowly
  • appear tall and confident
  • allow a wide berth
  • do NOT turn your back
  • do NOT act threatening or provoke
  • be prepared and always have an exit strategy
  • carry pepper spray/bear spray

I know this is a basic  guideline and each animal reacts differently, but in all cases, I’d say most important is not acting threatening or provoking. So what would I have done if bitten by that rattlesnake?

  • First, distance myself from the snake
  • Second, sit down and stay calm. Try not to move.
  • Third, call 911 (when I’m out and about, I’m always checking my phone for reception) If my phone won’t work, use my whistle or scream for help (I try never to hike remotely when by myself. Although this day, I didn’t run into another hiker on the trail. Thank goodness I had good cell service)
  • Always be familiar with your location and surroundings so you can give good directions should you need rescuing. I stopped at every trail post noting my location.
  • If not dizzy, slowly make my way back to the trailhead
  • Get to a hospital as soon as possible.
  • Additional info on snake bites here and here

Willow Lake Prescott Arizona

Have you ever come across wildlife unexpectedly and feared for your safety?

Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildlife, A Guide to When, Where, and How

These are affiliate links!