Blueberry Cayenne Sauce

Summer seems to be officially in motion now. The weather has finally gotten it’s act together and its been really pretty hot. Yesterday I was poking around the yard to see what was going on and noticed a lot of my blueberries were ready to pick. I was able to get about a cup and a half.

Years ago I had a friend who was a chef at a local French restaurant. He would make this amazing blueberry cayenne sauce and I decided I would try it. I searched for a recipe and found exactly what I was looking for. The recipe I found called for two cups of blueberries so I went to the store for more to augment. Link to the recipes is here and detailed below.

Ingredients

1 pint fresh blueberries [2 cups]

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup orange juice

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cold water

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper [I used 1/4 tsp and next time will try 1/2]

Instructions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the blueberries, 1/2 cup water, orange juice and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower heat to medium-low.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water until combined. Stir into blueberry mixture and simmer until thickened., about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla extract and cayenne pepper [start with 1/4 tsp and increase if you wish – carefull its hot].

Store in airtight container in fridge.

If you try the recipe let me know how you like it!

Geocaching

Happy Memorial Day! As I mentioned in my post from yesterday B and I have a pretty hardcore Geocaching habit hobby. Basically, caching is “using billion dollar technology to hunt for Tupperware in the woods”. But it’s not just the woods. It’s everywhere. You likely pass by several in your daily travels. The awesome thing about this game that I love is you can do it anywhere in the world [except North Korea].

Logo

The home to Geocaching is local for us, Fremont, WA [the center of the universe] and we are lucky enough to be friends with several lackeys [Geocaching HQ employees]. It’s pretty common for them to show up at a local event.

Up until 2015 they had an annual celebration called Block Party where literally thousands of people would come from all over the world to participate. We started caching in 2015 so only attended one Block Party, you can see my recaps for the Brewery Tour, Ballard at Night, Main Event & Ape Cache which still happens every summer [except this year due to shelter in place]. The last Ape event will be summer 2021, come out and see me as I will be a volunteer!

There are all kinds of Geocaches, the main types are listed below but this is not an exhaustive list;

  • Traditional [go to cords, hunt for container – use hint if needed, log cache].
  • Puzzle [solve a puzzle in the description to obtain final cords – repeat above].
  • Multi [field puzzle involving two or more waypoints that lead you to the final cords – repeat above].
  • Earth [go to cords, read description, observe geology, email answers to questions about area to CO, log cache].
  • Virtual [go to cords, read description, observe item you were lead to, email answers to questions about item to CO, log cache].
  • Letterbox [go to cords, hunt for container – use hint if needed, log cache, take provided stamp and stamp your book if you do this – repeat above].
  • Whereigo [download WIG app, download cartridge for specific WIG, go to cords, follow cartridge directions – repeat above].
  • Webcam [go to cords, capture photo from webcam [make a funny face or whatever], log cache with photo proof].
  • Event [go to cords at specific time/date, meet up with other cachers, discover trackable items, chat and partake of local eat/drink if at an establishment that offers those things, sign logbook].
  • CITO [go to cords at specific time/date, meet up with other cachers, clean up trash in area, sign logbook].

There are as many different ways to play the game as there are players. B likes to spend a day blacking out an area and solving puzzles. I enjoy working on challenges [puzzle caches that require meeting certain goals before you can log the cache] and seeing interesting Geology & items of interest that caches take me to/near. I enjoy particularly inventive cache hides and chronicle them here on the blog while preserving their anonymity. I also like collecting souvenirs and trackables. We both especially love caching when we travel and have done so in many states, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Belize & Honduras.

  • Souvenirs are virtual pieces of art that can be discovered and displayed on your profile. They are associated with a particular location and may also be bound by time. The more you get or a specific type may even qualify you for specific challenge caches.
  • Trackables are physical game pieces that move from geocache to geocache.

I have a series of blog posts called Awesome Cache Hides that detail some of my favorite caches we have found. I especially love it when there is a clever or cute container that goes with the theme of the hide. I have not posted in this series in a while but I have plenty of photos to get started on some new entries! Some highlights below [please note that all cache names are changed to protect the real cache identity name];

  • Rock Wall this is a specific type of hide I am not a big fan of. You can buy fake rocks that hide a log. People like to place them in rock walls or rock garden areas in public places. They blend in and make the find harder to locate, especially if they are in a high muggle [non Geocacher IE the general public] traffic area. As one of the goals of caching is to not draw attention to what you are doing. These are generally evil.
  • Loading Dock is a special type of cache hide called a gadget cache. We have a couple cachers in our area that love to create these amazing gadgets. A lot of time and energy go in to these. They often also need permission from the business they are placed at.
  • Get Out of My House! A lot of caches in our area are crafted using natural materials. One common favorite is a log and this one is representative of a stump that has been altered.
  • Sit for A Spell A lot of little libraries end up as cache containers. Some are pretty elaborate with false spaces within the actual library or items that “appear” to be books. I love to read and this type of hide combined with a cache is one of my faves!
  • Water Stopper Sometimes caches are hidden within existing items at a site or they “look” like they are existing. We have found caches placed in signs that look like they officially should be placed there and are not. Bird houses are another common item that caches get placed in. Pinecones and animal shaped containers are common too. Don’t even get me started on the world of 3D printed containers!
  • Thirsty Work There are some types of hides that require additional TOTT’s [tools of the trade] to make a successful find. There are several that involve water and some that require headlamps [as they are easier to find at night by following a series of “fire tacks” along a trail]. There are also some that require a UV light.
  • Link This cache hide is literally hidden in plain site but hidden so well the average person would not know it was there. Similar hides to this are hidden behind reflectors, in guard rails [not typical guard rail cache] and in lamp skirts. Often hides are magnetic and on the back of a strip of something that looks like it belongs or behind a panel that looks like its covering something electrical and should be there.
  • Cold War This is the only cache hide of it’s kind I have found. There are trackable hotels like Loading Dock noted above where people can drop and pick up trackables to move along but this was the first and has been the only wormhole I have come across. Basically any trackables placed in the container are transported from South Carolina to New York. I suspect there is a similar hide in upstate New York somewhere. I would love to create a cache hide like this but am in need of someone far away to partner with me. If you are a cacher and live far from the Seattle area please let me know if you are interested!
  • Constellation B and I have come across a few caches like this and they are evil. Sometimes you strike gold quickly and other times not so much.
  • Pillings Pond often some of my favorite caches are not so spectacular as far as the hide goes but it brings you to a really cool place with some interesting history.

Caching is something B and I dedicate quite a bit of time too. In the summer of 2016 we spent most of our vacation time taking Friday’s and Monday’s off so we could head out in the bus for long weekends and get as many Washington State Park caches as we could. This was a specific challenge that we found out about a year in to caching and had a deadline because there were a limited amount of gold coins [30] given out so made it extra special to finish. Our friend Dug did a lot of it with us. To prove you found all of the caches and to allow for no armchair caching [logging without actually finding it] you had to bring a passport and a specific stamp found in the cache container had to be stamped for that cache. The object was to get 100 [103 were available] specific cache hides in State Parks all over Washington. Memorial weekend 2016 we found the last one to complete the challenge and get the gold coin [completing 50 got you a silver coin].

We have since done a second challenge where we had to find 120 caches but our first list qualified so we only needed an additional 17 and they could be any cache as long as they were within the grounds of a State Park. When we were working on the first state park challenge we also started working on the Washington State Delorme Challenge and are down to needing 14 of 90 pages. I have a list of over 200 challenges I am working on. They vary for all different reasons and some I may never complete but it’s fun to work on them!

Do you Geocache? What are some of your favorite hides/caches?

Go To Recipes

Hello friends! I hope your Memorial weekend is going great! On Friday I posted about my favorite blogs and today I wanted to share some go to recipes from some of these bloggers. I love to cook and get friends together for a meal. A few years back B and I actually competed with friends in a local Iron Chef competition. What a blast that was!

We have a pretty small house but a huge yard so get togethers generally happen in the warmer months. I have always loved the idea of a monthly get together of good friends and food. I read an article last summer on this company in TX called Neighbor’s Table. The concept of something so simple bringing people together inspired me to start having potlucks last summer. Right now we are limiting ourselves to one other couple who are practicing social distancing as we are.

**A caveat, all photos are from the bloggers sites. I am a newb at photography so would prefer to post their glorious photos instead.

Its seems my go to appetizer consists of bread + fruit/veggie + cheese + herb generally speaking. Yummy bites to nosh on for me sometimes are a great light dinner during the warmer months.

I found the recipe for Cranberry Brie bites on a blog that no longer exists. [Although I am friends with her on Facebook – internet for the win!]. I brought these for a Friendsgiving a few years ago and totally need to make these more often! I love me some sweet and savory and cheese so these were right up my alley!

cranberry brie bites

I also brought these Gruyere, Mushroom & Caramelized onion bites to the same Friendsgiving [I was in charge of the appetizers].

Gruyere Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Bites

You can never go wrong with bruschetta. In fact often this is a summer dinner treat for me. I always add mozzarella but burrata melts even better so the next time I make this I will be trying with that!

tomato-bruschetta-with-balsamic-drizzle-768x1155

I have been getting in to bread baking lately too! I have been wanting to bake bread for a while and ordered the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day .I made their basic bread recipe and it turned out well, lighter in color than I would like but that’s OK. At the time I didn’t have a Dutch Oven which I have since corrected [I bought the 4.5 quart in Caribbean blue].

I found this sourdough starter and bread recipe from Half Baked Harvest that I have been making quite a bit. Fresh baked bread straight from the oven has been wonderful! Bread baking has become such a thing right now it’s been hard to get yeast and flour. I ordered two pounds of yeast online and a friend bought 20 pounds of flour at the store, we shared with each other and now we each are the proud owners of an air tight food grade 5 gallon bucket full of flour!

Also from Halfbaked Harvest is this Swirled Garlic Herb Bread. I made a second loaf Friday night [my actual photo on the right].

If you have discovered from my camping essentials post yesterday we love a good panini! This honey apple cheddar bacon panini is super yummy! Just the right amount of sweet and savory for my pallet. I just made this recently but would totally bring all the ingredients camping [we always pre-cook bacon & sausage and just reheat].

Honey-Apple-Cheddar-and-Bacon-Panini

I currently have beets growing in my veggie garden and I can’t wait to harvest them for this beet, goat cheese & avocado sammy. I have even made this as a salad.

beet goat cheese avocado

Generalyl speaking I do not like nuts in anything but I mae an exception for this Waldorf chicken salad. I have eaten this on lettuce and on bread.

waldorf chicken salad

The first time I made the swirled garlic herb bread I served it with this Curried Butternut Squash Soup by Minimalist Baker. Curry is one of those flavors that you either like or you don’t but this soup is light on the curry flavor. So good and so right!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Photo Credit

 

I am not a beef chili fan but another soup I have made a few times is Martha Stewart’s white bean chicken chili. Just the right amount of heat and sooo good on a cold day with some amazing sourdough bread!

white bean chicken chili

We love us some pizza around here and purchased a wood pellet pizza oven a couple years back [link is to similar – they don’t sell ours anymore]. We even took it camping. A friend of B who has a wood fired pizza oven in his kitchen got him the book American Pie which has been an interesting read. People really take their pizza seriously! I made their Margherita pizza dough Thursday night and a variation of this pizza recipe, again from Halfbaked Harvest – see a trend here? We had pesto as our sauce base, artichoke, Kalamata olives, salami, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, mushroom and burrata cheese melted on top.

pizza

I love Mediterranean food and have both of Debbi Mazar and husband Gabrielle Corcos cookbooks Super Tuscan & Extra Virgin. Everything I have made from their cookbook is amazing. I especially love the paella!

Butternut squash is something I planted in the garden this year and I really love it for cooking with! I have tried this butternut squash ravioli recipe and I had issues with the dough. I will try it again and possibly make this recipe next.

Favorite-Fall-Recipe-Butternut-Squash-Ravioli

I’m a sucker for a good salad and I love me some sweet and savory mixed together! This Strawberry Burrata Quinoa Salad with Pistachios is soooo goood! I make it all the time and generally speaking have all of the ingredients at home or in my garden. This was the first time I ate burrata cheese and oh man! Love!

strawberry-quinoa-salad

Another go to salad recipe that is amazing [trust me] is Watermelon Basil & Feta with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. I actually got this recipe from a friend in the hospitality business. I never remember how to make it so found this one to print out.

Another quinoa recipe I recently made was quinoa burgers with sweet potato fries and beer caramelized onions. I substituted Cavatica Stout from Fort George Brewing for the lighter lager beer in her recipe.

Crispy-Quinoa-Burgers-Topped-with-Sweet-Potato-Fries-and-Beer-Caramelized-Onions-1-1024x1536

We really enjoy salmon and I recently found a recipe for tuna cakes but substituted smoked salmon instead. Trust me when I say a generous amount of peanut oil is your friend when you cook these. Great way to prevent everything from sticking to the pan!

tuna cakes

This is a quick dinner recipe I found when I was doing the Whole 30. B loves it and we call it by its nickname, Crack. Egg Roll in a Bowl is made with ground pork but we always make it with ground turkey. Recently all we had was purple cabbage, I would NOT recommend. It tastes great but the color is off putting.

Crack

I’ve been crazving some sweets lately and when a friend posted this Earl Grey Blackberry Scone with Lemon Glaze recipe on FB I knew I needed to try it! I didn’t have blackberries on hand but I did have raspberries. We had these Friday morning with eggs and sausage. I have given a few away to friends [a gal who buys are chicken eggs and a neighbor B had social distancing driveway beers with last night].

www.beginningwithbergamot.com
Photo Credit

I am not vegan but I have had some amazing vegan food. The first time I tried Jackfruit was from this little vegan food truck at one of our favorite breweries when we head up north to Bellingham. If you are ever in the area you must get food from Sage Against the Machine. They make amazing BBQ Jackfruit. Anyway, somehow I came across this BBQ pulled “pork” jackfruit taco recipe which I have made camping. Recently B found grilled corn in a can [shall see how tasty that can be] and I have Jackfruit on hand so will likely be making this again soon.

Pulled-Jackfruit-Tacos

Another yummy taco I have made a couple times are these sweet corn & jicama tacos with garlic lime mayo. The last time I made them I added chicken. The dressing is to die for!

corn and jicama tacos

B and I love a good cocktail. We recently set up a bar on a dresser we have in our kitchen that houses napkins, kitchen towels, aprons, the Dutch oven and some serving pieces. My mom got us some great round tumblers for Christmas that sit right on the bar ready to serve us up!

Generally my go to cocktail is a dirty vodka martini. You just really can’t go wrong when you order one.

dirty martini

Now that it’s warmer I have been drinking vodka soda with lime more often.

vodka soda

I went to a party years ago and had some really good jalapeno margaritas and recently went searching for a recipe. I generally don’t care for margarita’s but discovered it’s because of the really sweet mixer most places use. This jalapeno margarita recipe is fresh lime & orange juice, agave nectar, tequila & jalapeno. I did not do the salt rim.

Margarita Jalapeno

Another go to cocktail for us is an Old Fashioned. We prefer Redemption Whiskey but Bulleit Bourbon is no slouch! Over the last year we have refined our own recipe so I have noted it below.

  • two ice cubes
  • double shot whiskey or bourbon of your choice
  • half shot simple syrup [we have been purchasing Barsmith instead of making]
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • maraschino cherry
  • orange twist

Old Fashioned

There are some other cocktails and recipies I would like to explore. I hope I have made you hungry enough to try some of these! What is your favorite recipe? Share in the comments!

Camping Must Haves

A lot of people go camping on Memorial weekend. Generally B and I do not but thought this weekend would be a great time to post about our camping must haves.

Fireworks
Independence fireworks over Lake Lucern

I’ve mentioned before that we camp…A LOT! We camp in a VW bus about once a month rain or shine [or snow, or wind….we have pretty much camped in every kind of weather]. Over the years there are products that we have purchased that just really make the trip every time and are so worth the expense. In fact, they live in the bus so we have no need to repack them.

Busses
Camping with the Lagrou’s at Larrabee State Park

The white bus in the photo above is the Synchro [4WD bus] and not the one we usually camp in. This was a special trip for my birthday last summer.

I thought I would do a roundup for camping items we could live without but why would we since they make the experience so much easier! Go ahead, call me a glamper! The below list is by no means exhaustive but things that we use every time we go.

Bugs

I don’t know about you but camping in the summer is a must! What is NOT welcome are those pesky mosquitos. I am not a fan of using DEET products but prefer something a little more natural.

  • I made my own spray. Its basically essential oils, rubbing alcohol, witch hazel & water.
  • I also made citronella candles for the bus I reused old jam jars and some larger ones from existing candle containers and a cool bowl for our fire pit at home.
  • In our main camping bus we have a sunroof not a pop up [as in the photo above of the 4WD van]. I also made a mosquito net. It has magnets sewn in to the binding around the edge and covers the sunroof opening.

Bus Line Up

Marty is third from the right in the photo above.

Lighting + Electronics + Emergency

  • Guys the Luci light is a little solar lantern is amazing and worth the price! I think we have five of them now. I just discovered they even have ones that will charge your phone. It compresses down to practically nothing [1 inch] and inflates really easily. They are waterproof and float [just in case you want to take that midnight swim in your birthday suit]. We leave them on the dash of our bus to charge while we are driving. They have a handy strap and we can string them from a tie down strap [another handy item] that we always have in the bus and hook it up on the frame of our easy up. Our very own camping chandelier! Great for playing board & card games!
  • Flashlights are great and you should have one in your camping kit but even better so you can remain hands free is a head lamp. We have about five of them and prefer the Black Diamond brand. Pro tip; always keep a supply of AA batteries on hand.
  • A voltage converter in something we have and use occasionally to charge items like our phones and sometimes I bring my kindle or iPad mini to read a book. [The one pictured is not the one we have but I like how compact it is and it also has plugs for different countries].
  • A portable battery charger has come in handy a few times for us and for others. Old VW’s are notorious for issues and having this along is peace of mind.
  • Another item for peace of mind, a comprehensive first aid kit is a must. Especially if you are somewhere remote.
  • B and I do a lot of Geocaching. We generally use our phone app but in more remote or rural locations a GPS comes in handy. It can be used for more than just Geocaching. It’s a helpful tool for hiking as well.

Repurposed Items

  • Rubber backed bath mats. One of our first camping trips about five years ago together was in February and it poured! We had an easy up to sit under but nothing to sit on the wet benches. B took the rubber mats out from the foot wells of the bus so we could have something dry to sit on which gave me the this idea. They are perfect for sitting on a bench and keeping you dry and as a bonus just a bit of insulation [sometimes I will put this on the seat of my camp chair].
  • This squeegee is great because of its compact size. We use them to wipe away excess water on camp benches [tables too] before using our bath mats as well as wipe off interior condensation on van windows.
  • We also have a whisk broom that lives in the bus. Its great for sweeping off the floor and keeping things tidy.
  • Binder clips are indispensable for so many things! We have strings of battery powered lights that we like to clip to the easy up [we store them in an old ammo can]. They are great for hanging wet items to dry or keeping Luci lights in place. We even use them to clip multiple easy ups together, especially in wet weather so no water seeps in between.

Canine Comfort

  • My dog Beej comes camping with us. He has a dedicated camp chair and I attach the handle of his harness to it with a carabiner. My dog doesn’t like to wander around much but prefers his camp chair or the bus [with blankets and his sweater if its cold]. I also can use this to clip to my day pack when we hike. Other dogs that come camping with us like to have more freedom of movement so clipping their leash to a run of rope tied between two trees is great for them when their owners need to be hands free.
  • A dedicated dog towel is also a good idea. I wipe Beej’s paws off before he gets on the bed so he doesn’t track dirt in. The one I linked to is not the one I use but I like that its quick dry. I have a beach towel that is reserved specifically for him.
  • My dog also doesn’t drink much water [he will literally turn his head when offered – so I feed him a soupy style of food to keep him hydrated]. Anyway, a collapsible water bowl is a great option for those of you who have dogs who actually will use them!
  • A great item for hiking with your dog too is the OllyBottle which has a piece that comes off to make a bowl to fill for your dog. Great for hiking!

Personal Use

  • After one camping trip in November a few years back where I had to layer up in 5 degree weather and walk about 1000 feet to get to the bathroom I vowed to get myself something I could use in the van. Right after that trip I purchased the Luggable Loo and for $20 is was a great investment. [I even have used it for getting out and Geocaching in non populated areas – like long power trails where a bathroom is not convenient]. I just recently had to replace the lid after four years as the hinges broke [even that didn’t prevent me from using it]. The replacement was $19. To keep things contained I buy these toilet waste bags. They are double lined and have a gelatin in the bottom to help with odor [doubled up garbage bags and kitty litter work in a pinch]. Generally I try to use the toilet for liquid only since it is in the van where we sleep and the gelatin helps with no smell. Bonus it works as an additional seat in a pinch.
  • I place a roll of TP in a ziploc bag and that works great. We also have a couple of these portable dispensers which are awesome if you are out on a hike.
  • However, I just purchased this pop up portable changing room to use as a bathroom so solids are not a problem. This changing room collapses flat really easily about 2 feet around and comes with a carry bag. We plan to do more camping in areas where they don’t have facilities [BLM] so this tent will make it nice for both of us to use. Pro tip, place your luggable loo in a corner facing the opposite corner – it’s roomier.
  • I just recently purchased the pStyle for long hikes where there are no facilities. Definitely would recommend practicing with it at home first!

Cold Weather Gear

  • My feet get cold easily even sitting around a campfire. A friend told me about Bogs and I purchased these boots a couple years ago. You don’t even need to wear socks with them. They keep my feet nice and dry and warm! Great for hiking too. They are currently having a sale – use code MAYSALE for 25% off [expires 5.25 11:59 PM].
  • Hot water bottles are a great option for keeping parts of you warm.

Sparkels and Marty

The blue bus in the photo above is Marty who we normally camp in. This was at Camano Island State Park and it snowed on us [obviously]. Pictured is our friends school bus he converted to enjoy Burning Man which they go to every year. He now has a company that converts Ford Transits in to two person campervans.

Dishes & Utensils

We like to eat well when we camp and bring the necessary items to do so. Along with our camp stove, we have a dedicated set of pots and pans that live in plastic tubs in the bus and a full set of silverware. We also have a dedicated cheese grater, microplane, tablecloth, measuring cups/spoons, wine cork, bottle opener, French press, spatulas & mixing spoons, can opener, tongs etc. Some of this was made easy when we combined households so we didn’t have to go out and buy things.

  • We always travel with 5 gallons of potable water for washing dishes, drinking, putting out campfires, etc.
  • Our go to lunch or late night dinner is a panini. We found our camping panini press at the local goodwill but they are not that expensive.
  • Another item we love to use is the Toas-Tite. It takes Hot Pockets to a whole new level! [My fave is banana or strawberry and nutella].
  • Being beer loving campers we bring along melamine Solo cups to drink our beverages from. [Pro tip; let others know they are not disposable, we lost one to the garbage as a new camper threw it away not knowing – even though we have blue ones].
  • B was gifted a personalized stainless steel growler in a carrying case for helping a friend and this generally comes with us camping. We like to check out local breweries wherever we go and this allows us to take something we like home [or back to camp] with us.
  • We also recently started drinking more cocktails. B will mix up a batch of Manhattan’s or Old Fashioned’s to bring along. We use these plastic tumblers for sipping our cocktails.
  • One item that has made life easier are these super thin flexible cutting boards. Each color is marked with a symbol [beef, fish, poultry & veggies]. We don’t use them that way but they are easy, don’t take up a lot of room and clean up is a breeze! [Pro tip; clip them to the easy up with a binder clip for quick drying].
  • We also have a set of sleeved knives for cutting and chopping. They store away nice and safely!
  • We often pack paper dishes but found these melamine ones and have them in the bus. Easy to clean and match our dishes we have at home even! We bought four plates, four bowls and one serving bowl. Often when we camp we have a potluck dinner on Saturday night so a serving bowl comes in handy.

Other

  • A hatchet in a protective sleeve is super useful for cutting up wood for the campfire and making kindling.
  • B bought me my very own multi tool which has any number of useful items on it. [Sog is a brand B is loyal to. They are only a few minutes from our house, super friendly and if you bring in your knives they will sharpen them for you for free].
  • Delorme map for your state. Phones and Google maps work great but sometimes there is no reception and a phyiscal map is a good thing to have.
  • Reference books for trees, plants and geology for your area are also nice to have with you.

Furniture

  • Foldable camp chairs are a must have. Portable and easy to pack away.
  • We have this rollup camp table that B bought years ago. I found this similar one for a lower price. I may purchase it as we have thought about buying a second one and I would be curious to compare the two.
  • A shade cover is always packed in the bus. As good as it is for rainy trips it also nice on hot warm days as well.
  • An easily cleanable rug for right outside the van door. This way we leave nature outside and it doesn’t get all over our bed. [The one I linked to is not the one we have].
  • When we go camping I like some time just hanging out and reading a good book or taking a nap. I love the ability to hang a hammock. Our hammock takes up hardly any room and lives in the bus. It has really long ties and I keep additional peri cord so we can tie it up just about anywhere we have trees.

B in the Hammock
B the Camping Model

 

We also generally bring a bunch of board, card and lawn games to play. I wrote about our favorites a while back. Along with the games listed in that post we have picked up;

  • Codenames is a social word game with a simple premise and challenging game play. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their temmates know the agents only by their codenames. The teams complete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the table. Their teammates try to guess words of their color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. The game words very well with 4 players if you prefer to guess without help. Or you can add more players if you prefer lively discussion. There is also a cooperative variant where a single team tries to achieve the highest score they can by playing against the game itself.
  • Bocce although our version is called Extreme Woodland Bocce. One player tosses the small white ball we call the Botch and then players attempt to get as close to the Botch as possible. Highly entertaining for player and spectators, especially when beer is involved. There have been several instances of quite a bit of time spent searching for the balls. Many times down holes. One time we had to dig out a tree stump to get a ball back.

Even with all of the above I do have a few wish list items;

  • Non toxic, bee safe mosquito repellent sticks are a product I currently do not have in my camping goodie bag but am interested in purchasing them and will report back.
  • My dog still hikes but as he get’s older longer trails are harder for him [he will be 15 in July]. I found this four in one dog carrier which I have not purchased but have my eye on [for dogs under 15 pounds]. You can wear it as a backpack, a cross body bag, or a duffel. It has a fleece insert as well.
  • One thing we currently do not have is a camp shower. We have never gone camping for more than a few days and generally we have gone somewhere where facilities are available. In future for longer trips and/or BLM camping we want to invest in a camp shower setup. I am researching this and will post when we have more info. We are thinking of rigging up something that attaches to the side of the bus so you don’t have to hold the shower head [I believe this heats the water as well]. A curtain you can pull around you and a cedar shower mat to stand on. This plastic shower caddy would be perfect to hold shampoo, conditioner and body wash.
  • Our friend Glen uses an old tea kettle he places right in the campfire to heat up water and then uses welding gloves to be able to pick it up and pour. Both items are on our purchase list.
  • We have utensils but I would like to get a couple of these sporks which is a fork, spoon and knife in one. I have owned these before but not in titanium. Purchasing a couple [even four] of these would reduce the amount of utensils we have in the bus and free up a little more room. Our utensils are in a double bagged ziplock which is a pain to find what you are looking for. I have considered making fabric cutlery bags [like this] so we can easily grab a setting. Shall see what we end up with. Maybe both!
  • I’ve debated getting a mosquito net door for the slider of our van. Not sure we would really use it that much since we have the sunroof and usually keep the door closed even when in camp.

Hope you like the list I put together and it helps you on your next camping trip. If you have suggestions for me leave them in the comments. I am always looking for great ideas and hacks to make our camping experience better!

 

 

Favorite Blogs

ATB
Everything will be fine. You’ll see!

Howdie friends! It’s day 1 of my four day Memorial Weekend. Hoping to get out in the yard as well as spend some time reading, kayaking, Geocaching, baking and cooking. We even have plans to have not one but two social distancing happy hours with good friends. We have a HUGE front yard and the ability to set up chairs for four easily for a sip and a chat. B likes to call it driveway beers.

Anyway, Memorial weekend is the unofficial official kick-off of summer and this year it’s quite the different experience! I’ve been WFH now for 2.5 months and I gotta say, I’m digging it! Although my work station at home could use a tweak in the ergonomics.

Today I wanted to share my favorite blogs I make a point of checking in on a couple times a week. Some of these bloggers are prolific and post every day and some are just coming back to blogging but have years of backlogs to enjoy. So let’s get to it!

Slow Living

First up is Be More With Less. Courtney Carver has been blogging for over ten years and went from working at a job she didn’t love to creating her own successful business. She downsized from a large home to a small apartment, paid off her debt & decluttered her closet using the P333 method she created which I started doing at the beginning of April. She has written four books and has a podcast with her daughter called Soul + Wit which I started streaming while I have been WFH.

I just discovered Courtney’s daughter’s blog called Beautiful Detour. I have not read a ton on it yet but thought I would post the link.

I also like to read Lee at Style Bee a Canadian fashion and minimalism blogger. I love her posts on how she mixes and matches her wardrobe to come up with new ways to wear clothing while keeping a minimalist closet through mostly sustainable fashion.

There is also Caroline at Un-Fancy who has not posted in a few months [please come back]. She lives in Texas and is the creator of the 10×10 challenge [with Lee at Style Bee]. Choose 10 items and wear them for ten days mixing and matching them.

Whitney at The Tiny Canal Cottage is all things holistic. Between she and her husband they run a home business and care for their young son all from a tiny little cottage in Venice, CA. I recently discovered this blog and so far am loving the content as I try to use up my commercially purchased items and switch to more organic and sustainable ones.

I found Erin at My Green Closet a few years ago when she was living with her husband in Germany. They have since moved back to Canada and have added a wee little one to their nest as well as purchased a house.

While looking around for Potager garden inspiration I stumbled across SG Style. Shavonda Gardner moved her family from a cookie cutter builder grade home to a smaller and much more quaint cottage bungalow in Northern, CA. She is part of the One Room Challenge right now and it’s her Potager Garden that is getting the benefit.

Food

I am definitely a foodie and both the BF and I enjoy cooking. While he likes to make recipies up in his head, I get inspiration from several different food blogs.

Tieghan over at Halfbaked Harvest posts a recipe a day. I don’t know where she get’s the energy but she has created a blog and business for herself out of her love of cooking. I have tried several of her recipes and they do not disappoint!

Shan at My Food Religion is an Aussie who has a passion for food….and a healthy gut. I love watching her Instagram videos as she often has her daughter [I think she’s six now] helping her in the kitchen. Too cute and I love that Aussie accent!

Another site I visit often is Cheryl at 40 Aprons. I found her when I was doing the Whole 30. Lots of great recipes over there!

I don’t recall how I came across Jessica’s blog How Sweet Eats but I’m so glad I did! She is a self taught cook and blogs about her food creations. She also has two cookbooks.

Several years ago camping a friend made a curried butternut squash soup and forwarded me the recipe. That is when I found Minimalist Baker. While I have not made a ton of her recipes that soup recipe is a go to for our household!

Design

Someone I read every day is Sarah at Room for Tuesday. She and her husband are on their third home renovation. Some of my favorite rooms she has featured is her current kitchen and living room. The laundry room [specifically for the dog art], covered patio and living room from their last house.

Another favorite is Stefanie over at Brooklyn Limestone. Her and her husband completely gutted and renovated a townhouse in Brooklyn, New York [hence the blog name]. She’s a lover of travel and chronicles her families trips all over the world. One of her favorite holidays is Halloween. She and her husband go all out decorating their house and having a corresponding party every year. The projects and tutorials that go with her themes are amazing!

Anna at Door Sixteen bought and renovated a house in upstate New York. Then got divorced and moved to New Mexico where she learned to drive [at 40]. I love her wit and perspective on life.

Dana at House Tweaking has not posted a lot in recent months but she seems to be on a comeback! The reason I love the blog is all the work they put in to their second home, the underdog – a 60’s ranch they completely gutted while she was unexpectedly pregnant with their third child. They paid this house off and bought a second home to gut and flip [the pee house]. Then Dana decided to go back to work and they unexpectedly purchased their current home.

If you have been living under a rock you may not have heard of Young House Love. The power duo of John & Sherry Petersick. They are on their fourth home renovation and have also purchased and renovated two vacation homes [which is really three as one was a duplex]. Recently they purchased a home in Florida and moved from Richmond, VA. They literally just moved in [like a couple days ago]. They downsized and had to wait a couple months to move as the house needed some major work to make it habitable.

Cathy & Garrett at The Grit & Polish replanted themselves and “retired” in their 30’s from Seattle to Ellensberg, WA where they are originally from. They bought a big old farmhouse and are renovating it. They started out living in the outbuilding at their first house in Seattle. Renovated that house and then rented it. They have purchased, renovated and rented a total of three houses in Seattle.

So the above list are my go-to faves. They are kind of like favorite books you like to cozy up on the couch and re-read on a rainy day. If you have recommendations for other blogs please post them in your comments!

Love 5-1-20

Another week of sheltering in place and we are in to a new month. The governor of WA is giving us until the end of the month. I’m not gonna lie, I have been enjoying WFH and hope to be able to do that a few days a week in future!

Do you have allergies? botanical sexism may be the reason.

I’m a HUGE fan of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary’s series. The story of a bunch of disaster-prone historians who investigate major historical events in contemporary time. Do NOT call it time travel! I finished her first spin off book Doing Time at 1:30 Wednesday morning. LOVED it. Cannot wait for the next one!

Do you know about the Freemont Troll? He’s pretty much in my backyard but if you are ever in the Seattle area you should visit!

If you love books as much as I do, you can now virtually tour some libraries.

Fascinating story about the 14th state of Franklin back in 1784 which lasted four years and is in modern day Tennessee.

Have a great week!

Cozy Yummy Meal

Happy Monday friends! The weekend was full of me battling ivy [and winning!]. I am slowly getting rid of the ivy that is creeping along the front bed of our property. Almost all of the veggie seeds I planted are coming up. Still waiting on the zucchini. The grass seed I planted a couple weeks ago is making its appearance too! Got some raspberry plants from my mom too.

Last night I made a very satisfying and yummy but simple meal. Curried butternut squash soup and swirled garlic herb bread.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

[source]

Swirled Garlic Herb Bread

After a day of working in the yard this was a welcome meal!

Love 4-24-20

Howdie there, hope you had a great week! Sorry I didn’t get this post up yesterday. B and I got out last Friday and went to the woods and did some Geocaching. It was the social distancing nature pick me up we needed. Last night we had a zoom happy hour with some friends.

Tiger Lilly

We went grocery shopping Sunday to stock up for the next week and I was given free lilies at the store. That was a nice thing and they are now sitting near my desk. Every time I walk by the room these are in I can smell them. They smell amazing and almost a week later are still going strong! This reminds me of when I used to buy myself flowers every week or so. I stopped doing it because of the indoor cats but now that I have a desk set up in a room the cats are not allowed in I can start this happy little habit again.

Tried my hand at sourdough bread last weekend. It’s good but would like it a little more sour. A friend sent this link for some extra help.

Sara is going to start a date night series on her blog. This is her first post. What do you do for date night? If you are currently not in a relationship, what are you doing to take care of you?

Interesting read about medieval blue paint.

This coffee cocktail sounds amazeballs!

This “bake-off” style flower show coming to Netflix might be interesting.

Have a great week!

Street Corn & Jicama Tacos with Lime Mayo

Hello and happy Thursday!

I don’t know about you but all this sheltering in place has really brought out my domestic side. We have been doing a LOT of cooking up in here! In fact, in the last five weeks we have ordered take away exactly once. That is strange for us as we generally eat out a couple times a week and boy are we missing our favorite local Italian place!

So let’s get to it. The recipe couldn’t be easier to follow. I always make a recipe exactly the first time and then tweak it. B usually tweaks everything. He’s a “from the hip” sort of cook and that is NOT a bad thing. I have enjoyed all of this experiments.

But I digress…..

street-corn-tacos-9

[photo source]

I’m posting her photo because it is MUCH better than mine [I’m an infant at this DSLR thing].

Not exactly sure how I came across Jessica’s blog but I am SO glad I did! I had made this recipe last summer and was really craving it. This time I added chicken seasoned with pepper, salt, paprika & chipotle. We did not have fresh corn on hand so we used canned and “grilled” it on the stove. The flavor turned out pretty nice. Today for lunch B used the left over mix with fish in a quesadilla with purple cabbage.

Enjoy!

Love 4-17-20

Howdie and how was your week! Today B and I had an already planned day off. We both are getting a little stir crazy so we headed out and did some Geocaching. Don’t worry, we had masks and gloves and went somewhere pretty remote. It was a good day. We also ordered take away pizza from Zeek’s. This is the first meal we have had not cooked in our kitchen in over a month. It was good!

I thought this was a brilliant way to create art. Students transform an electrical tower in to a stained glass lighthouse.

I can’t decide which is my favorite. I “think” 19 but 2 & 7 tie for a close second for Gateways to Narnia.

I love a Drive In movie theater. Sadly the closest one to us is on an island, granted its only a ferry ride away – AND – they let you camp out there. We have done so in the bus. Currently they are closed.

If you are feeling the need for interaction. You can always hug a tree.

I love to read and new books are always wanted. This bookstore in Boulder, CO is delivery by bike mystery bags of books. They also will send anywhere so I ordered a mystery bag today.