Some weeks are more eventful than others, and this past week was one for the books. First, three out of the four of us celebrated a birthday. So of course, there had to be festivities.
And what’s a birthday celebration without plenty of tasty food and fine spirits to toast to another year?
Fine food and drinks
I’m not sure where the time has gone, but all four of us fall into that “senior” category and considered to be in the last quarter of our lives. Eek! That sounds eerie, doesn’t it? So when ya put it into that light, we might as well live it up and throw any thought of diet or restrictions out the window. Right? Bring it on!
Despite all the negative happenings centered around 2020, Al and I have been enjoying a fantastic summer staying on family property, and having a ‘real’ house at our disposal.
A real kitchen, a real shower, and a big-screen TV with cable have been huge bonuses.
I’ve been able to watch the Food Network to my heart’s desire which has led to lots of experiments in the kitchen … in both the RV and the sister’s house.
Some recipes have turned out better than others, but there hasn’t been any out and out fails.
There’s something about watching one of my favorite personalities cook (or bake) that inspires me to get in my own kitchen. Believe me, I need all the motivation I can get!
Oh, and I’ve been banned from watching HGTV after trying to talk my husband into doing a complete remodel on the RV … back to that inspiration thing. 🥴 Little does he know, there’s still Pinterest and Instagram that keep those remodeling ideas alive in my head. Shh, that’ll be our secret!
With new-found cooking inspiration, for Steve’s big day (Al’s sister’s husband), I made filet mignon cooked to perfection in a cast-iron skillet, a Ceasar salad made with homemade dressing, and a side of my version of focaccia bread. Dessert consisted of my favorite chocolate cupcakes drizzled with chocolate liqueur and whip cream. Yum!
While I made a fantastic meal and dessert for my brother-in-law’s birthday, we went out to brunch to celebrate my own birthday. Over the river creek and through the woods, we arrived at the Garmisch Inn located along the shores of Lake Namekagon. Good food, great view, wonderful company … a gal can’t ask for much more!
Interesting sights around the Garmisch property
Bloody Mary with a beer chaser
Out to brunch for my birthday – Al, me, Al’s sister, her husband
The fun didn’t end with brunch. The weather was perfect for a boat ride. So when we returned home, we hopped on the pontoon boat for a spin around the lakes and a little fresh air and sunshine. Later in the day, I made my favorite Sloppy Joe’s and Margarita’s, followed by more Margarita’s around a campfire. #LifeisGood
The third birthday occurred at the end of the week. The festivities continued as we celebrated Al’s sister’s birthday. We started off the day with a big breakfast of bacon, eggs, cinnamon toast, and Bloody Mary’s followed by a boat ride. For an early dinner, I made Chicken Marsala, Buttered Egg Noodles, Ceasar Salad (by request), and herb topped dinner rolls. Al popped the cork on some sparkling Prosecco as we toasted to another year and another great summer spent hanging out together.
The day was topped off around a toasty campfire while indulging in my homemade apple crisp and spiked hot cocoa. We are definitely into fall weather. So the hot chocolate was the perfect way to end a great day.
Catching the Big One
Birthday cheers … eating, drinking, boating, and campfires weren’t the only events of the week. Although Al and Steve get out on Teal Lake fishing regularly and do routinely catch fish, they recently enjoyed a very special and rare fishing outing.
My husband had a once in a lifetime experience earlier in the week during an evening of fishing. He caught his biggest fish ever; a 42 inch, 24 pound, Musky. Al is still beaming. According to fishing guide Steve, aka brother-in-law, this Musky was trophy size (especially for this small Hayward lake) and many an angler spends a lifetime trying to catch such a Musky. For the serious and tournament anglers, they choose to try their Musky luck on Wisconsin’s third-largest lake located a mere fifteen minutes away from the family property; Lake Chippewa Flowage.
And this was Al’s first-time Musky fishing. Beginners luck! Al usually focuses on fishing for Bass, Walleye, or Crappie… the good eating fish. He has never been one to trophy fish.
So what does one do when they catch such a fish as a Musky? You snap lots of photos, take measurements, and do so quickly. Then you gently lower this freshwater shark back into the water and massage/revive the fish.
Once he starts fighting and you know he’s fine, you let him loose. “Be safe Mr. Musky and go make more Musky’s”.
These days, you never ever keep the fish. First, Musky doesn’t taste good, and second, for those wanting the wall hanger, you provide a taxidermist with the measurements and photos and a plastic replica is made.
If an angler did show up at a taxidermist with the real fish, the angler would be thoroughly chastised for his selfish stupidity. “Not cool, dude. It’s catch and release“. BTW – there won’t be any wall hanger in this RV, and that’s okay. Al is quite content with his Musky photo screen saver.
The summer is wrapping up!
With the cool air blowing in and the leaves beginning to change color, it’s time for Al and me to think about our migration south. But not so fast! I have my camera batteries charged and waiting at the ready for fall colors. I have a few day trips planned to capture that beautiful autumn foliage … fingers crossed! 🤞
For my birthday, I received more cooking inspiration. These are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support❤.
What do blueberries and video making have in common? Well, dear friends, please read on.
The month of September was a little overwhelming for me, but mostly in a good way. The month started off great with a small family reunion in northern Wisconsin which included a visit from our daughter along with Al’s other sister and her husband. For those new here, Al and I spent a fantastic summer camped at his youngest sister’s lakefront property near Hayward, Wisconsin. Special memories were created this past summer along with that week-long visit from additional family members.
The month ended with us moving our two storage units in southern Colorado (after purging) to Phoenix, Arizona. To say that move was exhausting and stressful might be an understatement. I’ll save that tale for another post. Let’s talk about the fun stuff first, and that includes that visit from our daughter.
A mother/daughter photo-op getaway!
Not one to pass up a chance for a mother/daughter getaway, shortly after her arrival in Wisconsin, I quickly arranged a 48-hour trip for just my daughter, Ashton, and myself. The other family members didn’t mind since they themselves were enthralled in catching up with one another.
She fell in love with the landscape as I knew she would. Gosh, what’s not to love? The spectacular scenery includes seven state parks, several waterfalls, small shoreline towns with restaurants and unique shops, and Lake Superior lighthouses.
Since my daughter shares my interest in photography, this trip was geared with photo-ops in mind. And let me tell you, this part of the U.S. will not disappoint a shutterbug.
After exploring the shoreline from Duluth to the Split Rock Lighthouse, we returned to Duluth where I had snagged us a room at The Inn on Lake Superior. Canal Park is considered the entertainment district of Duluth and we really enjoyed strolling the area and taking more photographs.
Mocha Moose Cafe along the scenic drive west of Two Harbors. Perfect stop!
A shutterbug’s delight
(To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image)
The following day, we drove to Lake Superior’s south shore in northern Wisconsin; a place I only discovered this past summer. I have fallen in love with this part of Wisconsin and found myself returning to Bayfield multiple times during our summer northern Wisconsin stay. If you enjoy kayaking then the little town of Cornucopia and Meyers Beach are not to be missed. The ‘sea caves’ along Lake Superiors coastline provide visitors with an extraordinary kayaking experience.
Let’s go blueberry picking!
Not only is the Bayfield Peninsula known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, but it’s also known for the abundance of fruit farms dotting the landscape. Since Ashton had never visited a ‘pick your own‘ type of farm before, I knew I had to share this experience with her. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t the greatest in early September. The blueberries were at the tail-end of their season and the apples weren’t quite ready for picking.
However, there were still some bushes with blueberries here and there for her to pick and eat right off the bush so she could enjoy the overall experience, and the farm still had prepicked blueberries for us to purchase. Therefore, we did not return home empty-handed.
My sister-in-law and I had visited the Blue Vista Farm a few weeks earlier (mid-August) when the bushes were loaded with berries and picked nearly 5 pounds of blueberries.
Once those berries were washed and divided, I went into baking mode and stocked my sister-in-law’s freezer with treats centered around blueberries. I don’t think any of the family members complained about eating blueberry pancakes, blueberry coffee cake, blueberry scones or muffins. Nope, not at all!
Everyone loves my pancakes and they’re always a hit. So much so, that my adult children still frequently request them. Therefore, blueberry pancakes became a regular part of the weekly menu for our guest’s during their Northwoods visit.
Just in case you’re interested here’s the recipe, and do me a favor, throw that box mix away. I promise you won’t need it after you try these 🤗
Fluffy Blueberry Pancakes that are super easy to make!
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk (or 1 cup water plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons melted butter (unsalted)
1 cup fresh blueberries
Melt the butter and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a 2 cup measuring cup, whisk together the wet ingredients and add the melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are fully combined. Fold in blueberries.
Heat a greased griddle or frying pan with either butter or non-stick cooking spray. Ladle batter onto the grill. Flip once the edges are browned. Once fully cooked through, serve pancakes topped with butter, maple syrup, or bananas.
I do change up the recipe from time to time depending on what fruit is in season or add some chopped walnuts to the batter and top them off with banana slices It’s not uncommon for us not to have real milk in our RV fridge and I’ll use almond milk instead. Lately, we haven’t even had almond milk in the RV. So, what to do? These days, instead of milk, I use 1 cup of water with 1 Tablespoon of brewed coffee added and they turn out quite tasty. Seriously, give it a try. My daughter thinks they taste better with the water/coffee mixture than they do made with milk.
Oh, and there’s more blueberry recipes to be had. Are you interested?
Till next time …. Ingrid
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With the impending wedding less than two weeks away, final preparations are in full swing. Oh, what wedding you ask? Did I not mention, my son is getting married in mid August? Yes, exciting times for us around Arizona!
Although, Al and I had several reasons for not traveling outside of the state of Arizona this summer, the number one reason to stay somewhat close to Phoenix was the wedding. Being only an hours drive away from Phoenix has worked out perfectly, and I’ve been able to be included in any and all wedding festivities and preparations.
Even though the children live in Phoenix, the actual wedding venue is on a ranch in Skull Valley, just west of our RV Park in Prescott, Arizona. Thus, the location of the wedding is rather convenient for Al and me, but then again, we did plan accordingly 😀
I haven’t really had much involvement in the whole process. The bride seems to have everything under control, but I’ve been around to attend dress fittings, doing a tour of the venue, and a few other events. The one thing the bride did ask me to do was bake my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding.
Instead of a wedding cake …
You see, the bride and groom don’t intend to have a big wedding cake. Probably just a little one for them to cut for traditional purposes. Instead of serving guests a slice of wedding cake, they’ve chosen to have a dessert bar for their guests so guests can enjoy a variety of desserts. For this, the bride has enlisted the help of several people.
With that said, I’ve been asked to make my famous cheesecake cupcakes for the wedding. My son loves cheesecake. It’s his favorite dessert.
I used to make him a yummy New York style cheesecake, but it was always a great deal of work and a tad more challenging to make in my little RV kitchen.
Then I discovered an easy recipe for cheesecake cupcakes, which my son enjoys equally as much. These are so much easier to make than a big cheesecake, especially in the RV.
I didn’t think twice about saying yes to the bride when she asked me if I would make my son’s favorite dessert for the wedding … until … until … until she told me around 90 cupcakes should be about the right amount 😲 Say what?
Okay, I’ve adapted to working in my little RV kitchen and can put out some amazing meals and baked goods. Quite frankly, with a little organization, anything that can be made in a sticks and bricks dwelling, can be made in a RV, but now we’re talking about production … large quantities. No, the RV wouldn’t work. Sure, I could actually make them all in the RV, that’s not the problem. Cheesecake needs to be refrigerated, and therein lies the problem. You know how big my refrigerator is? Six (6) cubic feet! Yeah, that’s small. Let’s compare … how big is yours?
I needed to come up with another plan. That is, after trying logically to enlighten my future daughter-in-law on the wisdom of serving a chilled dessert like cheesecake at an outdoor wedding in the middle of August … I was met with a blank stare. Ah, brides!!!
Cheesecake it is, and for plan B, I enlisted the help of my daughter. I still haven’t totally figured out how we’re going to keep these little cheesecakes chilled at the outdoor wedding venue, but I have a few possible ideas swirling in my head.
So, a couple of weekends ago, I took the 90 mile drive to the Phoenix valley to spend the weekend at my daughter’s place and dive into the baking production challenge.
She and I always have so much fun spending a weekend together. However, during this visit, we were on a mission and the baking task at hand took precedence. Oh, not that we didn’t have fun … we did indeed. There was plenty of laughing and shenanigans in the kitchen all the while binge watching “Nailed It”. We had to keep motivated, and the baking show did just that!
My daughter recently discovered this Netflix original baking show and immediately thought of me. Seriously, if you have never heard of the show, I recommend you Google images of Nailed It, and you too will laugh your a*s off. She thinks I’d make the perfect contestant with my many a Pinterest fail … ah, my baking endeavors and failures 😏
Whew! Five exhausting hours later – success! We had the cupcake containers filled with the requested 90 cheesecake cupcakes. Now it was time to take them over to son’s house to be stored in his deep freezer. The decorating on top of the cheesecakes will be done the morning of the wedding. After all, I have nothing else to do the morning of the wedding other than decorate 90 80 cupcakes 😏
The cupcake container was so heavy that Ashton and I decided to weigh it. Oh my gosh, almost twelve (12) pounds of cupcakes!!!
While I lead the way carrying my pans and utensils down the outdoor apartment steps to load into the car, Ashton followed carrying the cupcakes. She had gone down maybe four steps, when I heard some very unladylike exclamations loudly uttered. I didn’t need to turn around to know what had happened, but I did need to know the extent of the damage. The cupcakes were so heavy that one of the container clips on the side gave way. (Note to self … in the future, do not carry by the handle but rather cradle in arms holding from bottom. Do not trust the clips to hold. Lesson learned!)
Although Ashton was on the verge of tears, I quickly calmed her concerns and gathered up the tossed cupcakes. We returned to her apartment to see what I could salvage.
Turns out about ten of the cheesecake cupcakes were not salvageable to serve to wedding guests. The main problem was the shape. Only two had actually touched the ground while the others remained in the container, but ended up either upside down or smashed to one side. The ones that were still slightly warm were now misshapen and not very pretty … tasty, but not pretty.
I gathered the rejects and placed them on a paper plate, and with a sharpie, I marked the paper liners of the two cupcakes that had touched the ground. This plate of rejects would return with me to the RV. The rest of the cupcakes eventually made it safely into my son’s freezer where they await the big day.
With the cupcake challenge behind us, next on our list was to go to the liquor store and purchase the wine for the wedding which Al and I, parents of the groom, had offered to do. With the wine loaded in my backseat and then dropped off at son’s place, Ashton and I returned to her apartment with a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio for ourselves and a healthy take-out dinner order from Panera Bread. We were exhausted and needed an evening of fun and relaxation.
The rest of the evening was spent laughing, drinking, and eating while we watched a combination of Nailed It and comedian Ali Wong. I’d say we had a very successful and entertaining day in spite of the little mishap on the apartment steps.
Between Al and our RV Park neighbors, the reject cupcakes were devoured in short order with requests for more rejects. And to think, my daughter was going to throw them away! They may not have been pretty, but they were still very tasty as evidenced by their quick disappearance and request for more .
2 – 8 ounce packages of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons melted butter
Directions – Turn oven on to 325 degrees. Crust – In a food processor, grind graham crackers into crumbs. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs with sugar. Add in melted butter. Using a spoon, combine until all crumbs are coated with butter.
Line a muffin tin with paper liners (do not use foil liners) – 18 cupcakes. With non-stick cooking spray, lightly spray paper liners then add about 1 Tablespoon (or slightly less) of graham cracker mixture to each liner. Firmly press crumbs down.
Filling – In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Spoon mixture into prepared graham cracker muffin tin. Fill about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until filling looks baked. Cool completely before decorating. This recipe makes about 18 cupcakes.
Top with buttercream frosting and a teaspoon of strawberry or blueberry preserves or instead of frosting, top with strawberry or blueberry preserves and whip cream.
Recipe by Ingrid at LiveLaughRV.com
Tips for making these cheesecake cupcakes
1. Organization is tip number one, especially when working in a small kitchen.
2. Use a Tablespoon to measure out the graham cracker crust into the cupcake liners to try to get an equal amount into each well.3. Use the top of a wine bottle to firmly press down the graham cracker crust. Of course, we washed the top of the bottle well before using. Perk … drink and enjoy when done using the bottle 🤣
4. Cool the cheesecakes completely before decorating or moving them to a new location. Do as I say, not as I do!
Final thoughts …
With the groom’s mother (me) doing her part for the wedding, let’s hope Mother Nature does hers and cooperates by giving us a reprieve from the daily afternoon thunderstorms that we’ve been experiencing since early July.
I don’t know why, but the bride and groom didn’t share my sense of humor when I told them my rubber muck boots and raincoat coordinate with my dress nicely and dad (Al) intended to bring his fishing waders just in case. Hey, when ya live in a RV, as Al and I do, one is always prepared for adversity … it’s part of the RV adventure!
I enjoy all kinds of photography. It’s a hobby that I’m passionate about and continues to challenge me in more ways than I ever imagined. I think my passion for photography stems from my father. He was an avid photographer during his younger years and was even a professional photographer for a short time after WWII.
Although my dad doesn’t understand the technical side of digital photography, he certainly understands the concepts and workings of a camera. Even at 91 years of age, he and I are able to talk about things like aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. Yes, I’m very fortunate that dad still has a brain as sharp as a tack. And sharp enough to criticize my photographs 😏
From time to time, I’ll print out some of my blog posts as well as individual photos, and send hard copies to my dad. He loves these snail mail packages. After he’s had a couple of days to review the photos, he and I will talk about them via a lengthy phone conversation. Although his vision isn’t as sharp as his brain, he’s made his opinions very clear …. he does not like my food photographs.
Well dad, neither do I 😆 Never in a million years did I think food photography would be so difficult and frustrate the heck out of me. Challenging is an understatement! Some people have a knack for cooking, food staging and making their images look appetizing and some folks don’t. We’ve all seen those less than stellar food photographs posted on social media 🤢
And then there are those who can compose in minutes and share a lovely shot … like my daughter, who manages to take awesome images with her phone and share on social media – Tea Party anyone!
Yeah, food photography is much more difficult for me than I ever imagined. And to think, I thought bird photography would be more challenging … not! With birding and landscape photography it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Nature does the staging and lighting for you.
With food photography, I first have to make the food which in itself can be a challenging task in a RV. Then I have to find the location with the right lighting and stage the scene. Then it’s time to find the right angle. Geez, by this time, I’m ready to snarf down the food and screw the photographs. And when we go to a restaurant, I rarely think about taking a pic of my food. When I do? 🤮 Let’s just say, not worth sharing. Once again, I’m usually too eager to eat the food than I am on making a photograph of what was just served. I’ll leave restaurant photography to the millennial’s.
Oh well … I’ve never shied away from a challenge. So I’ll keep plugging away at the genre of still life – food photography … and Al will continue to suffer through the eating and drinking!
Wandering Wednesday Photo Theme – Food
For this weeks photo prompt … theme … inspiration, let’s share images of Food. Perhaps you have a favorite restaurant or recipe you’d like to share. I know I can always use a little food inspiration. So share and connect – leave a comment down below with a link to your blog or link back on your post. And if you have any secrets when it comes to taking great photographs of food … I am all ears!
Carrot Cake Recipe
If I’m going to call something “the best ever”, I think it only fair to share the recipe of this indulgent carrot cake that I make only once a year. Carrots may be healthy and low in calories, but cake isn’t 🤣 You’ve been warned … enjoy!
For the cake
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
3 1/3 ounces unsweetened coconut (1 1/6 cup)
1 small can crushed pineapple (don’t drain)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula mix in carrots, coconut, pineapple with juice, and walnuts. Add remaining ingredients, mixing with spatula until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Pour into a greased 9×13 baking pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.
With a hand mixer, beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Add half the sugar and continue creaming. Add a quarter of the remaining sugar and continue mixing. Once thoroughly combined, add remaining sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is achieved. Spread frosting on COOLED cake.
Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration for you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect! Post your photo anytime between now and next Wednesday when a new theme will be shared.
Upcoming prompts – Landscapes, Garden, Birds …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!
I find travel to be exhilarating and energizing but at the same time exhausting. Kind of seems illogical, huh! I also think it’s somewhat difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the go. Not that it can’t be done … it just takes a little more forethought and planning.
Socializing and traveling …
When I add in a bunch of socializing along with our travels, I find myself getting easily derailed when it comes to my dietary restrictions and healthy eating plan. It’s easy for me to stick to my health plan when we’re hanging with friends that also focus on eating healthy and exercising, but unfortunately, some of our friends do not share those same goals, in which case, I get distracted.
I don’t have what I’d call food allergies, but I do suffer from food sensitivities. In essence, I can eat anything I want without the effects necessitating an EpiPen, but I do struggle with other less obvious aliments caused by eating foods I shouldn’t …. issues that can severely impact my energy, physical well being and ability to travel.
We spent the first three months of the year hanging with dear friends in Lake Havasu City, and as much as we thoroughly enjoyed our time with our friends and loved exploring western Arizona, we didn’t fair so well with our goal of healthy eating.
Unfortunately, Al and I both gained some weight during that visit which is always frustrating, and I started feeling less than ideal. Hmm, aren’t January and February the months when everyone starts a new diet and exercise regimen? I think we missed that memo!
Not everyone understands food sensitivities …. gosh, I’m not even sure I do. However, through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to realize, it’s a lot like the straw that broke the camels back .… a cumulative effect of small actions which turns into an unpredictable large reaction.
Not wanting to be a party pooper or ruffle anyone’s feathers, I try not to make a big deal about my food issues during social gatherings. After all, it’s not like I’m going to have a life threateninganaphylactic reaction to eating something I shouldn’t.
But after three months of socializing along with all the food indulgences, there was a final straw … the straw that broke this camel’s back. Sometime toward the middle of March, I started feeling like crap. My energy plummeted, I felt physically ill, and my mind was in a constant fog. I had trouble functioning, and I was not having fun!
Fast Forward …
Today, after focusing on diet and exercise the past few months, I’m fortunately feeling better than I have in quite sometime, and Al and I have even lost the weight we gained earlier in the year …. well …. Al more so than me.
One of the reasons (one of several) why we decided to curtail our travels this summer was so we could focus on our health. We wanted to look and feel our best for our son’s wedding this August, and the last thing I wanted was to experience his special day with my head in a fog.
Even while traveling, we try to stayed focused on our health by having healthy homemade meals and snacks prepared ahead of time, but it isn’t always easy. Sure, when we’re out exploring and hiking we get in plenty of exercise, but it’s also easy to fall into the category of I don’t feeling like cooking, or that restaurant we just passed looks interesting so let’s check it out, or let’s just grab some fast food (something we do our very best to avoid … but occasionally fail). I wish I was more “into” cooking. Perhaps I wouldn’t get distracted so easily and succumb to all those temptations!
During our stay in Page this past April, I got back in the kitchen and started focusing on meal planning. Since we were out and about regularly hiking and exploring in northern Arizona, we didn’t need to think about an exercise plan, at least not until we moved to Prescott.
Once Al and I were settled into a RV Park in Prescott, Arizona, for the summer, we formulated a regular exercise routine complete with the addition of a little yoga. I found this great beginners Yoga DVD that I started doing regularly and all was going great until ….
… until I pulled something in my neck while doing Warrior Pose. Seriously? Oh, but my luck didn’t end there. Oh no! The following week, I twisted my ankle while hiking which has left me unable to perform Tree Pose on my left leg 🤦♀️
Oh well, this too shall pass! After icing the neck and taping up the ankle, I’ve been hobbling over to the local library and returning to the RV with a stack of books on cooking and health … anything to help inspire my active brain while my inactive body recuperates.
With my exercise plan derailed, guess I’ll be wearing Spanx to the wedding. See, there are always options when things don’t go according to plan. RV living has a way of teaching one to be flexible and to expect the unexpected. Actually, flexibility is a prerequisite for RVing. Trust me, it’s in the rule book somewhere!
Back in the kitchen …
Okay, so the exercising hasn’t gone according to plan for me (Al’s doing great 🤬 and getting in all his steps every day), but while he’s out exercising, I’m excelling in the kitchen and feeling so much better for my efforts.
Food sensitivities are real!
So back to my food issues … When a person has a severe food allergy or a medical condition like Celiac disease, Western Medicine seems to know exactly what to do, but food sensitivities are not so clear or easily diagnosed.
For many, the journey can be a roller coaster ride, as it has been for me. Ultrasounds and CT Scans were inconclusive and provided no answers for my pain. Several years ago, a visit to a Functional Practitioner was helpful and enlightening. There has been a lot of trial and error along with note taking on my part and the journey continues.
What might work for me, may not work for another person. One thing I know for sure …. I can’t ignore the fact that I can’t eat what others can. Yes, such a bummer and very frustrating, and when I do ignore that fact, it’s the beginning of a downward spiral for me. Food sensitivities are real regardless if other’s disagree.
Let’s talk food …
So let’s talk about what I can eat …. Yay, I won’t starve! Chicken, my favorite protein and my stomach is never bothered by chicken. Whether it’s grilled, roasted, or sauteed … dark meat vs. light meat, doesn’t matter, I like it all.
One of my favorite things to do is marinade and grill a bunch of chicken one day and then use leftovers for the following day – cook once, eat twice, or sometimes even three times. I quite often plan this before a travel day which deters any urge for going out to eat. Not only does this help keep my diet in check, it helps keep us on budget.
Here’s my favorite chicken marinade recipe. The amount listed here is about right for 4 chicken thighs or 2 boneless chicken breasts. If you’d like to make more chicken, just double the recipe. You’ll want to marinade the chicken for at least 2 hours and more is even better. I prefer to then grill the chicken, but baking also works.
Citrus Rum Chicken Marinade recipe
In a large ziplock bag combine:
1/4 cup of lime juice
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of rum (I like to use Captain Morgan spiced rum)
1 Tablespoon of honey
salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
a pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)
Once all the ingredients are well combined, add the chicken to the ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator to marinade, turning occasionally.
Let me know if you give this chicken recipe a try and what you think about it! I like to grill up a double batch of chicken and use the leftovers the next day to make chicken and lettuce wraps with a drizzle of homemade honey mustard dressing. Yum! The wraps can be seen in the picnic photos further up in the post. Having healthy meals prepared ahead of time for our travel days makes the world of difference. We maintain a higher level of energy and clarity throughout the day. No junk food for this gal!
One thing that has become very clear to me these past few months is staying healthy, active and mobile is the key to an enjoyable life … the key to enjoying our adventurous lifestyle of full-time RVing. Happy noshing!
It’s mid December. The days are short, the air is crisp, and the holiday lights are sparkling. Winter has arrived and we’ve finally had a cold front roll through here in the desert southwest. In Phoenix, Arizona, this past week the thermometer barely hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit … Brrrr! I’m sure my friends to the north are either tilting their head quizzically or scowling at me.
Hey, when it’s been a consistent 90 plus degrees, anything much less than 70 degrees feels cold and has me putting on a sweatshirt. With that said, I think I’ve officially turned into a reptile. What other explanation could there be as to why 70 degrees would feel so cold to me? Crazy, I know! However, I must say the mornings and evenings do get into the 50’s and even 40’s, which is definitely cold and has me pop’n on the heat in the RV.
With winter in full swing, it was time to make a big pot of soup, but not just any soup, Southwest Chicken Soup. Nothing like warming up from the inside out.
Considering I’m in one of my favorite places; the desert southwest, why not embrace the unique landscape and culinary flavors of the region!
With the soup simmering in the slow cooker, the RV is filled with a wonderful scent. While inhaling the delicious aroma filling the RV, I glance out the window and admire the landscape.
I find the Saguaro Cactus intriguing. As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I thought this three armed cactus was a fabrication of cartoonists. I remember watching cartoons like the Road Runner, Huckleberry Hound, and of course Bugs Bunny. The background contained scenes of red rock, cactus, and the ever abundant tumbleweed … all foreign to a young gal growing up in northern Illinois among cornfields.
Each saguaro cactus is unique and appears to have a personality of its own. It took me weeks of living amongst these beauties before I was even able to pronounce the name saguaro correctly…. pronounced: sa-wha-ro.
The saguaro cactus is a large, tree-sized cactus which can grow as tall as 70 feet (20 meters), and is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, some parts of southern California, and northern Mexico.
Saguaros have a relatively long life span, averaging 150-175 years of age with some living as long as 200 years. (Hmm, makes me feel likeI’m a tiny spring chicken in comparison 😀) It can take 50 to 70 years just for a saguaro to develop a side arm. Arms are grown to increase the plant’s reproductive capacity … more arms lead to more flowers and fruit.
Saguaros are very slow-growing and may only grow an inch or two during its first eight years. The growth rate is determined by climate, precipitation, and location.
This army of cacti seem to have their own personality; some cute, some not, some look like proud soldiers, some like cartoon characters, and others look tired, twisted, and weathered, but no two are identical. Oh and by the way, the plural is either cacti OR cactuses – either is considered acceptable.
AND then there is the rare crested saguaro. Why are some crested? Saguaros rarely grow symmetrically and often grow in odd or mis-shapen forms.
But on rare occasion, the growing tip produces a fan like form which is referred to as a crested or cristate saguaro.
Biologists disagree about why some saguaros grow in this unusual form. Some thoughts; genetic mutation, lightning strike, freeze damage, but no one knows for sure why the unusual growth occurs.
Fascinating to say the least for whatever reason!
Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater and the cactus will visibly expand. This might explain why the desert feels so alive after a rainfall. During a heavy rain, a saguaro cactus will absorb as much water as its root system allows. To accommodate a potentially large influx of water, the pleats of a saguaro cactus expand like an accordion.
I was fascinated with the plump texture of this saguaro after a heavy rainfall. You can literally see the water trapped below the skin’s surface.
The pleats are plump with moisture
Because the majority of a saguaro is made up of water, an adult plant can weigh as much as six tons or more. This tremendous weight is supported by a circular skeleton of inter-connected, woody ribs. The number of ribs inside the plant correspond to the number of pleats on the outside of the plant.
the skeleton of a saguaro
The saguaro cactus is an important part of the desert’s Eco system. The gilded flicker and Gila woodpecker excavate nest cavities inside the saguaro’s pulpy flesh.Large birds like hawks also use the saguaro for nesting and hunting platforms. Their stick nests can be seen constructed among the arms of a large saguaro.
In mid summer, the saguaro cactus provides a source of food for animals with its ripening fruit. Jackrabbits, javelinas, mule deer and other animals will eat the saguaro’s flesh during dry summer months, providing these animals with a much-needed source of water.
I continue to be awed by the remarkable abilities of the plants and animals that thrive in the desert southwest. The desert can be a harsh and unforgiving environment. Perhaps that’s why I find it to be such a special and extraordinary place to visit.
Southwest Chicken Soup
So what about that soup I have simmering? Let’s not forget why RVers flock to the desert southwest during the winter months. Sure it’s the weather and the amazing scenery, but it’s also the food. There’s no shortage of delicious eateries around the state of Arizona and the availability of fresh ingredients is a home cooks delight.
Yikes … Christmas is right around the corner. Are you done shopping? Amazon is featuring some amazing discounts this year. This is the first time I’ve seen the Panasonic LUMIX DMC FZ300 bundle priced this low. Love this camera!📸
“I could never live in a RV full-time because I’d get bored living on hot dogs and hamburgers”. Al patiently listened to this comment. Then in a somewhat perplexed tone, he looked at the guy and asked, “What are you talking about?” The guy quickly responded, “Isn’t that what you eat when you’re camping?”
With a chuckle, Al quickly responded by rattling off a list of meals he had enjoyed that week – all lovingly made by his dear wife …. Chicken Marsala, Shrimp Pasta Primavera, Fish Tacos with homemade guacamole, T-bone steak topped with sautéed mushrooms, Chicken Enchiladas, and of course, Hamburgers, but not just any old hamburger, a Hatch Chili Burger.
Then hubby went on to list a few delectable treats that he had the pleasure of devouring (also made by the love of his life). The guy was in total shock and exclaimed, “Wow, if that’s how you eat, I could live in a RV full-time. As a matter of fact, can I move in with you?” 😆
The bottom line is, if it can be made in a sticks and bricks home, it can be made in a RV. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some challenges to overcome cooking in a RV. First and foremost is the size of the RV which dictates the size of the kitchen, the size of the appliances, and the amount of storage space available. But with good organizational skills and thoughtful planning, anything is possible. Just ask my family and friends.
Last month I baked a delicious birthday cake for my daughter, and all from scratch. No box mixes that day. Her millennial girlfriends (non RVer’s) were surprised this was all done in an RV.
According to my daughter, it seems I may have redeemed myself from last years mess of a birthday cake.
And no, I won’t be sharing a photo of that cake, too embarrassing, but she sure had fun re-posting the photo of it on Facebook. Last years cake was one of those failures in crafting – “A” for effort and “F” for execution.
(This post contains affiliate links) This years birthday cake was a tasty Black Forest Cake with aGame of Thrones inspired theme and actually turned out cute and tasty. My daughter is a huge Game of Thrones fan and loved the beanie baby Dragon on top. (FYI – Black Forest Cake = chocolate cake covered in chocolate frosting with a cherry filling between layers – oh, yum indeed!) Yeah, I did good creating this birthday cake, and I had fun doing it and all in the confines of my little RV kitchen.
I’ve talked many times before how social RVing and blogging can be. We’ve developed some fabulous friendships these past several years between RVing and blogging. Usually the meet ups are centered around food and beverages. Either we meet at a restaurant or preferably at someone’s home which could be a sticks and bricks or an RV, and everyone brings something to share.
Many of us, whether we live in a traditional house or a RV do not have family close by, and this can bring on a feeling of loneliness and even more so during the holiday season. We love and miss our family during the entire year, but especially during the holidays. Al and I have lived most of our adult lives far from extended family and have learned to adjust. We turn to friends during those times when we aren’t near family for the holidays.
Holiday journey …
I recall, the first Thanksgiving Al and I ever spent together. He was a Pilot and I a Flight Attendant for a small regional airline based in Chicago, Illinois. It was the second time we had met and worked together, and we were on a three-day trip over the Thanksgiving holiday. During those three days, we found ourselves bouncing between the cities of Chicago, New York, Omaha, Kansas City and Philadelphia.
By the time we landed in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day, it was around 4:00 in the afternoon. The entire crew was famished after a very long second day of this three-day trip.
We scoured the airport for food, but everything was closed except for a cafeteria which was also in the process of closing down. Our only choice …. Phillie cheese steak sandwiches. We’ll take’m! Not one crew member complained as we sat in silence filling our growling bellies. This was just the beginning of a blossoming romance between a Pilot and a Flight Attendant ❤
Many years and two kids later, we were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. With extended family more than a thousand miles away, we decided to head to the mountains for the Thanksgiving weekend. I booked a hotel room in Dillon, Colorado, so the kids, who were about 12 and 14 years old at the time, could enjoy opening ski season.
Armed with walkie-talkies, we turned the kids loose on the slopes at Copper Mountain while Al and I enjoyed the comforts of a roaring fire at the base of the mountain accompanied by hot toddies. (Al and I are certified flat-landers who have never been bitten by the skiing bug, but we encouraged our children to ski. After all, if you grow up in Colorado, you have to ski. It’s a rule 🎿😄). Less than two hours later, we were greeted with a hysterically crying twelve-year-old daughter, whom I might add was dressed quite adorably by moi with her powder blue ski boots, matching jacket, headband and bouncing French braided pigtails … so cute, but back to the crying mess …
Through all her hiccuping cries, we had trouble understanding a word she said. She didn’t seem hurt and her hysterically laughing brother following behind her lead us to believe it wasn’t serious.
Once the crying and laughing subsided, we were briefed on the kids faux pas. You see, when they got off the chair lift, they took a wrong turn and found themselves going down a challenging slope with moguls. Those two young novice skiers didn’t even know what the term mogul skiing meant, let alone know how to navigate that slope. To make a long story short, there were a few wipe-outs and somersaults involved, but no injuries. Something to be thankful for!
To stem the hysteria, we gave the kids the choice of where to eat for our Thanksgiving dinner and they unanimously picked pizza at Old Chicago in Silverthorn. Another turkey saved. Fun and memorable times!
For our family, it isn’t so much about the food as it is about making memories, spending time together, and being thankful. We’ve always opened our home to neighbors and friends and we’ve continued that tradition in our RVing life. Full-time RVing finds most of us many miles away from family, and this is when we reach out to our RVing and blogging community.
I’ll never forget the toast friends of ours made before sharing a Thanksgiving dinner together, “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Cheers … here’s to picking us”.
Whether you’re spending the holiday by yourself, or sharing it with a partner, or with extended family, or even with a friend made the day before, remember to make your own holiday tradition. There are no rules …. well …. except for one ….. apple pie. For an American Thanksgiving meal, dinner can be the traditional turkey with all the trimmings, or a Phillie cheese steak sandwich, or even pizza, but you must have apple pie … it’s the American thing to do 😆
Easy apple pie recipe …
As I mentioned earlier, cooking and baking in a small kitchen like a RV can be a challenge. When we lived in a sticks and bricks home, I always made my apple pie from scratch, including the crust, but I have a counter top space issue in my RV, meaning I have very little room to roll out a pie crust …. sigh!
Believe me, I’ve tried every possibility including the table and even my desk, but in all cases it was a huge pain, not to mention a mess, to try to roll out a pie crust. Don’t even get me started on trying to roll out Christmas cookies. Ah, that’s another story and another sigh.
So onto plan B which includes a store-bought frozen pie crust. Hey, when you live in a RV full-time, some sacrifices are needed, but I still insist on making as much from scratch as possible, and this pie still tastes better than any store-bought version.
Hope you enjoy this super easy apple pie recipe, and be sure to let me know if you give it a try!
For the crumb topping;
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 Tablespoons butter (softened)
Whisk together flour and sugar then cut in butter with a pastry cutter/blender forming crumbles. Set aside.
For the Pie and filling
1 frozen pie crust (defrosted)
3 large tart apples, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Place sliced apples in pie crust. In a measuring cup add 1/4 cup sugar and mix in 1 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon. Combine well. Pour sugar cinnamon mixture over apples. Top apples with crumb topping
Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.
Recipe by Ingrid @ LiveLaughRV.com
Apple pie, a bottle of pinot grigio, good friends, and an amazing sunset …. things to be thankful for. With that said, I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Thanksgiving. How and where will you be spending Thanksgiving?
A few of my favorite items that you might find handy especially if you decide to make your own crust … note: these are affiliate links Bamber Wood Rolling Pin
Sundays are fun days in my book. When I ran my own business, it wasn’t uncommon for me to work seven days a week, and although I thought I was doing a great job, such was not the case. At some point, it was brought to my attention that burn out was setting in. I could feel it, but didn’t want to acknowledge it.
I wasn’t doing myself, my customers, or my family any favors by being a work alcoholic and not taking a day off work. We all need time to recharge, and Lord knows, I definitely needed time to recharge. That’s when I made Sundays my day off, my fun day, and began focusing on myself and my family. I made a rule; absolutely no business on Sunday …. well, maybe just a little bit here and there 😉. Taking Sunday’s off was such a smart decision and Sunday Brunch’s became something our family looked forward to.
Now that we’re semi-retired, I don’t need to make a conscious effort to take time off work, but that still hasn’t changed how I view Sundays. It’s still our day to relax and do something fun. And sometimes that fun revolves around food …. or boating …. or hiking …. or hanging with friends ….. or all of the above.
Al loves Eggs Benedict, but it’s a rare treat. All that Hollandaise sauce isn’t exactly waist friendly, but then again, that’s not something he wants to hear. Also, considering all the elements needed to make Eggs Benedict, it can be a little challenging to make, especially in a small kitchen like a RV.
The key is organization and enlisting the help of your guests, regardless of the size of your kitchen.
We recently spent a couple of weeks this past September visiting friends in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. We had a fabulous time. More on that to come. With a full size kitchen at my disposable, I quickly and willingly stepped up to the title of resident cook.
Al didn’t waste anytime putting in his order for Sunday Brunch, and it turns out our friends are every bit the Eggs Benedict fanatics that Al is. Me? Nope! I make it, but don’t eat it. I don’t like Hollandaise sauce or Canadian bacon. A plain toasted English muffin with a couple of over easy eggs on top and I’m happy. Ooh, and let’s not forget a few Mimosa’s for this gal. Everyone else can enjoy their Bloody Mary’s while I cook and down champagne and orange juice.
So grab your favorite beverage, and let’s get cooking. Since Eggs Benedict comes together very quickly, we need to be organized and have everything on the counter and stove ready to go. Seriously, you’ll be serving your friends a wonderful Eggs Benedict in less than twenty minutes from start to finish.
What you’ll need for the Hollandaise Sauce is a double boiler or some version of one. I prefer my make shift double boiler which consists of a medium sauce pan and a glass mixing bowl (my glass bowl is microwave safe and heat safe).
I fill the pot with about two to three inches of water making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl. Of course, we’ll need a whisk.
Next we need two frying pans. Since I don’t have room on my stove top for two large frying pans, I use a small one for the Canadian bacon and a large one for the eggs. When I’m pressed for time or space, I’ve been known to put the Canadian bacon in the microwave, freeing up stove space, but shhh, don’t tell Al. He’s not a fan of microwaved bacon. The large frying pan is for frying the eggs over easy. I know, I know …. real Eggs Benedict is made with poached eggs, but without my poacher, I prefer to fry the eggs. My kitchen, my rules 😁
Since we’ll be toasting English muffins, the more toaster slots the better and this is when I enlist the help of my guests. I put them in charge of toasting the muffins. Just make sure the toasters and guests are out of your way because things will happen fast.
With all our equipment ready to go, let’s make sure all our ingredients are within easy reach.
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup softened butter
Canadian Bacon (at least 8 slices)
4 English muffins, split
Salt and Pepper
Surrounded by all our ingredients and equipment, we’ll start making the Hollandaise Sauce first. Once we’re done whisking together the sauce, turn the heat on the burner off but keep the sauce warm by letting it sit over the hot water. Stir the sauce from time to time making sure it doesn’t curdle as you start frying the Canadian bacon and cooking the eggs. While you’re tending to the stove, have your friends pop the muffins down in the toaster.
Once the eggs are fried over easy, it’s time to assemble. Place one toasted English muffin open-faced on a plate and put one or two slices of Canadian bacon on each half. Place an egg on the bacon then top with Hollandaise Sauce. Finish off with a pinch of salt and pepper and enjoy.
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup softened butter
2-3 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Once the water in the bottom of a double boiler is boiling, whisk together the eggs and half the butter in the top of the double boiler. Be sure the water in the bottom pot doesn’t touch the bottom of the top pot. Continue whisking the butter and eggs making sure the eggs don’t curdle. Once the butter is melted, add the remaining butter, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Stir constantly until all butter is melted.
If the sauce is too thin, let it sit without stirring. It should start to thicken. If it gets too thick or curdles, add a teaspoon of lemon juice or water.
Serve over Eggs Benedict or your favorite vegetable.
After breakfast, it was time for a boat ride. Yeah, I could get used to this!
A few items you might need … When we lived in a large house, I had one of these for easy egg poaching. (affiliate links)
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.
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.
Well let me tell you, these burgers are so awesome that they’ve become the normaround 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’!
Last 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?
Green Chili Burgers
– 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!
With our mother/daughter trip already a month in arrears, Ashton and I still haven’t stopped talking about our exciting adventure. Looking back, I wonder what made this trip such a fun adventure and total success. No doubt, I attribute it to good planning and organization which ultimately lead to a wonderful camping trip experience.
Our Utah excursion was one of the best trips my daughter and I have ever shared and that’s saying a lot. Let’s face it, it’s no easy feat beating a trip to Disney World. Our Disney vacation and a trip we took to South Dakota a few years ago still rank pretty high on our list of epic excursions, but this trip to Zion National Park may have topped those two previous vacations.
When Ashton and I decided we were long overdue for a gals get away, our scheming began in earnst weeks in advance. So what exactly did we do that helped make our camping trip so successful?
This post contains affiliate links. However, I only share items we use and believe in.
OUR TOP 9 TIPS FOR PLANNING A GREAT CAMPING TRIP…..
1. Location & Budget: Where to go on vacation? Ashton and I pulled out the atlas and began searching within a large radius around her home in Phoenix, Arizona. First and foremost, we discussed budget. Our budget was the main reason we decided to drive versus fly and camp versus hotel.
The length of our trip would be five days and four nights. We looked for a scenic location that we could drive to in one day but could also break up the drive if there was a scenic place to stop along the way. Zion National Park fit the criteria for our excursion perfectly.
Once we decided on a national park as the destination, we knew we wanted to tent camp. In my opinion, camping is a much more intimate experience with the environment than staying in a hotel. Camping puts us up close and personal with our surroundings and wildlife. Trust me, I’m not saying there isn’t a time and place for the comforts of a hotel room, I just feel closer to nature when I camp, especially in a national park, but I do like mixing it up depending on where my travels take me. Ah, this is why an RV is the best of both worlds 😎 I do love my RV!
Since taking the RV for this particular trip to Zion National Park wasn’t an option, tent camping was the best choice for these two gals and at $20 a night, we easily stayed within our budget. We knew driving and camping would be the biggest bang for our buck.
2. Create check lists. Our first list included the items needed for camping which obviously encompasses the tent, air mattresses, bedding, flashlights, ax/knives, lighter/matches.
We started a second list of equipment needed for cooking which included the Coleman Stove(s), cookware, plates, utensils, cleaning supplies, towels.
Our third list was for our personal toiletries and clothing. When you’re camping, you need to think about where you’ll be cleaning up and showering. A beach bag and flip flops have served me well over the years in keeping me organized while using a public facility. However, when a campground offers no place to shower, like the South Campground at Zion National Park, there’s nothing better than a package of baby wipes to keep you feeling fresh especially after a long arduous hike. Who knew baby wipes had multiple uses?
When it came to clothing, we focused on bringing items we could layer and made sure we brought rain gear and cold weather gear. Hiking shoes with good traction were also a must. Be sure you have a realistic grasp and understanding of the type of climate and landscape of your location and pack accordingly.
3. Food planning and preparation. Ashton and I decided we didn’t want to eat out much. Plus, we’d be traveling through some remote countryside while passing by the occasional small town. It was important to us that we be totally self-sufficient, eat healthy, and not rely on trying to find a place to grab something to eat.
We made a meal plan (another list) and then divided up the grocery list and cooking preparation.
We cooked meals at home weeks in advance (like spaghetti and chili) and then froze these meals. During our trip when it was time to eat, we simply needed to reheat the food at our campsite.
We also pattied out burgers, marinated chicken breasts, then seasoned and individually saran wrapped everything and froze. The morning of travel, we took all the frozen items and placed them in our cooler topped with a bag of ice. Which ever item thawed first, dictated the order in which we ate the meals.
I could do a whole separate post on our meals and snacks. We really did well in our planning and prep. We never felt hungry, we ate healthy, and stayed within our budget.
4. Plan for travel. I’m a huge believer in physical maps. We’ve all heard the horror stories of a GPS leading folks astray. There’s nothing wrong with using a GPS, but in remote country, it’s always wise to confirm the route with a physical map so you don’t find yourself on a one lane gravel, rutted road in the middle of no where. It happens!
You can’t possibly do too much research or have too much information. Always stay updated on weather and road conditions.
Are there forest fires anywhere near your destination or along your route? How about road closures, landslides, construction? If you have a reservation, call and confirm ahead of time. If you don’t have a reservation what are your chances of finding a campsite or lodging? What are your backup options?
Have a plan A, B and C. When it comes to travel, flexibility is key and things DO go wrong. Never did we think we were going to get snowed on during that first night at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Thank goodness we packed extra blankets. It sure got cold! There was never a mention in the weather report or on radar about the severity of the storm we experienced. I did my homework and things still went askew. But it added to the adventure, thus no complaints.
5. Don’t procrastinateand wait until the last minute to throw things together. Planning ahead of time is crucial. Off in the corner of daughters garage, we started gathering a small pile of camping gear weeks in advance. We spent time checking and rechecking the equipment. We practiced pitching the tent in the backyard, which made us look like pros at the campground. Yes, we impressed 😎
We also made sure all the gear was clean and in good working condition with no missing parts. And in the case of tent stakes and propane bottles, we made sure we had extras.
6. Organization – load up. I like using water-tight rubber bins to keep us organized. As long as we’re not in bear country, we can keep the bin with kitchen supplies (pans/plates/utensils/matches) handy on the picnic table. It’ll keep squirrels, mice, and water out. We used another bin for our dry foods but did keep that one in the car at all times.
We used different sized bins determined by the amount of supplies and separated by subject. BUT before filling the bins, we made sure they, along with the cooler, fit into the back of the Honda CRV.
By having everything organized in one spot in the garage, on the day of travel, it was convenient to load up and hopefully not forget anything. This made life easy for Ashton considering she was loading the car by herself. I was located an hour away.
7. Review essentials – medications and camera gear. A day or two before travel day, make sure you pack medications, check your first aide kit, review your camera gear making sure batteries are charged and you have extra media cards, have emergency contacts written on paper in case cell phones die or won’t work, pack last minute things.
I love this power inverter. We were able to keep things charged. We couldn’t find any outlets at the campground not even in the restroom. Thus, this inverter saved us by keeping our phones and cameras charged.
8. Communicate with loved ones regularly. In this day of technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected. Keep your loved ones back home up to date on your where abouts. That way, should something unfortunate occur, your loved ones will have a general idea of your last location. This is also the perfect excuse to take selfies and share, but please don’t overdo and annoy your friends and family stuck back home working.
I usually texted my husband once in the morning letting him know our general itinerary and again later in the day when we returned to camp. My daughter would do the occasional post to Facebook or Instagram. When we overnighted at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, we had no cell service but the ranger was kind enough to allow us to use the land line so I could call hubby and let him know where we were spending the night. Thus, we didn’t disappear for five days leaving loved ones back home worried.
9. Be flexible.Things happen and may not go according to plan. The weather may not agree on the day you have that epic hike planned. Don’t force the plan, adjust. Maybe a rainstorm is the perfect excuse to visit local stores, or a coffee shop, or brewery. Or spend a little extra time at the visitor center learning about the area. How about a museum?
Remember safety and prevailing on the side of caution should always be paramount. Changing plans at the last minute on a whim or due to unforeseen circumstances, has provided some of my most memorable experiences.
So let’s review my top nine tips on how to plan for a great camping trip ….
choose a location and budget
create check lists
plan meals and do food prep ahead of time
plan the travel and do research
don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute
organization is key
review essentials and continue to review your check lists
communicate regularly with loved ones back home
be flexible and have a good time
And how’d we do on that budget? Awesome!First,let’s not take into consideration our groceries. Whether on vacation or at home, we still have to eat. So that cost is an everyday expenditure and not associated exclusively with the trip, but I will included the two meals that we did eat out and the stop at the coffee shop at the Zion Lodge. I’m also not including my $80 seasonal national park pass which I had purchased at the Grand Canyon a month earlier.
Five days and four nights cost us just shy of $200 which covered our campsite fees, gasoline, and eating out (2 meals). Ashton and I split the cost making our five day camping trip a whopping $100 per person for the entire trip. Quite the deal, wouldn’t you agree?
So are you ready to get out your camping gear and visit the nearest national park? I know I am and can’t wait to go again!
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