Sunday, April 28, 2013

Camping Trial Run & Lessons Learned

Is it just me or does life get extra crazy when you are trying to prepare for a trip of any kind? My best efforts to plan ahead are thwarted at every turn.  Our first camping trip with the camper was no different. To say that we forgot a couple of things would be an understatement, and yes, I did make a list.

The Game plan: Hubby would go early with all the boys and I would run to the store for our last minute items.  Good plan.  By the time I finished he would have most everything set up.

Upon arrival I bring in all the cooler items.  We both stand before our camper fridge. "I guess we should turn this on now", he says.

"Yeah. How long does it take to get cool?", I ask.

"Hmmm, I'm not sure". Let me call our camper source."

 Hours. It takes hours.  We had no ice as of yet.  Another store run with the whole family.

Dinner time. I felt so discombobulated that I had trouble figuring out what we would eat.  Tacos. We had pinto beans, chicken, lettuce, etc. Tacos would be our first meal.  Now where did I put the tablecloth? Yup, you guessed it. Forgotten.  After digging around in the camper I found the set of curtains that went with the sheets someone had given us for our home away from home.

Like my pineapple centerpiece? Are you awed by how multi-functional it is? Curtain/tablecloth weight. Pretty to look at. Breakfast for tomorrow. My flighty, unprepared ways are teaching me to be a pro at using what we have on hand.

For a little insight into the Rowdy lifestyle, here is a comparison of our dining table at home verses the picnic table...To left we have the Rowdy Camping Table and pictured below is our Rowdy Round Table.  How ironic that I wanted to complain about my inability to reach the little guys without getting up.  However, I won't lie and say that a little more elbow space was nice.  We may have to go camping more often, huh? :)

Keeping each other close, literally and figuratively. :)

I think we bored Collin

Water: Of course it wouldn't be a camping trip for these boys (dad included) if we didn't go hit the lake to fish and get some, if not all, body parts wet. It was a pretty day with a lingering spring chill, but why would that stop them from acting like it's summer and wanting to swim?? I went back to straighten up the camper, or maybe to take a nap. No sense in putting myself in any danger of getting wet.

Fish Got Your TOES!!

Hey. You know what I really to like to have in the mornings when I first get up? Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. I shuffled as quietly as I could and turned on our stove to get our prepped coffee going. After what seemed like many, many minutes the water began to boil. My brain tingled in anticipation. Caffeine was coming. Pour. Add fixings.  Sit and get comfortable. Sip and - SPEW!!! It tasted like I just poured coffee straight from the water hose. Ewwww.  Another lesson learned. We will use bottled water next time.  Eck.  Time to start over.

The Camping Percolator 

Rain. Then came the deluge. Okay, maybe not a deluge but it did rain quite a bit. In between those rain showers we would hurry out of the camper and get the big boys out on their bikes to ride, while the rest of us walked. There would be no grilling outside that night.  What a great opportunity to test out all the kitchen appliances!

Hams & Hots, Sugar snap peas, Corn, Mango and Carrots
Yes, we will be dining in this evening...
That evening turned out to be very nice. We had popcorn and watched a movie together. Although this was definitely a trial run, the boys loved every moment. And me? Well, I guess I have to admit I had fun too. One of my biggest concerns turned out to be no concern at all. Would I sleep? Yup. I slept like a log each night. Sweet dreams.

Lessons Learned
  • 1. Turn on the fridge the night before leaving to get it cooled.
  • 2.  Take the camper keys with you so you are not locked out.
  • 3.  Realize that a family of 6 can fill your water tank pretty quick! Who wants to hear, "Mom! There is water coming up into the bathtub!"?
  • 4. Be prepared for rain. 
  • 5. Use FRESH, bottled water for coffee.
  • 6. Answer your phone if you are expecting a guest to come and visit (Mother). 
  • 7. Chill out, be patient with each other and make great memories!!!

Memories Made
Some of you have already sent me some great suggestions for the next trip that I cannot wait to put into practice and share with the rest of the blog world! Anyone have any camping adventures to share?


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Random: the Rowdies have a Camper??

Can you hear it? Listen closely. It's the theme song to Sanford and Son. You listening now? To enhance your reading experience, hum that tune as you pursue the last sentence of this post. Ba-da-da-dat-dat-dat. Ba-da-da-dat-dateh-dateh-dah...You got it now.

Come on down and visit us. Turn in our our neighborhood and go until you come to a quaint ranch, no wait, CAMPER! Yeah you cannot miss it.

The Rowdies have a camper?? I wouldn't have believed it myself. Our last family camping trip was about 5 or 6 years ago, so how is it that a 30 foot camper now sits in our driveway? The first mention my hubby made of investing in a camper was back in the fall. I was not ready to entertain the thought in the least. After all, our family of six abides in a little ranch consisting of 1200 square feet. My mind was on possible upgrades or additions - something to get these crazy cuties out from under my feet!

The topic of a camper would surface from time to time but it became more persistent after he spoke to a friend that buys them from auctions, fixes them up and sells them. Oh boy. My firm stance was beginning to waver, especially when I thought about the activities my husband and sons do together. They do all things boy and I let them have at it most days.

Knowing that our time with our children goes by so fast caused me to reassess the importance of upgrading right now.  So, come spring we agreed to begin the search for a used camper trailer.  One week later our camper source had already found the layout we were looking for.  That was hardly enough time to come to grips with reality! I was thinking we would have a month at least, but...

You are looking at my home extension folks! The irony of it all is as I type this post, all the boys are out hanging in the camper while mom gets some down time.  Not exactly what I meant when I was thinking upgrades, but I will take it! And I promise that I will be going on the camping trips with them, even though it may be tempting to find solace at home.  In the name of quality time and good memories I will fall in love with our camper!!!

She is starting to grow on me

 Come on inside and see what we have to work with. Other than parts to get this puppy up and running, we have tried to keep purchases to a minimum. All bedding, towels, etc have been pulled from around the house to save money.

 I'm thinking about spray painting the light fixtures. Any suggestions?

We may break down and get an actual coffee machine.

Spices from the market
The Bedrooms

Mom and Dad's abode

The duvet set was given to us and the quilt was made by Glen's late grandmother, bringing a meaningful touch to our home away from home.  As soon as I figure out what we will actually need on one of these "camping" trips, I will begin to stock cabinets.

the bunk room
Notice the absence of a television in their room. We think that one in the main area would suffice, but would like to make this space functional. Ideas?  Even without the t.v., the boys love their room and have in fact already slept in the camper on three separate occasions.  I hope that I will be as equally enthused with my sleeping arrangements.

Looking forward to sharing some of our camping journeys.  Do you have any camping tips or stories to share?


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Please, Step into the Parlor

The milk parlor that is...

I stop at the gate. Ring the owners at Rancho Alegre and state my purpose. I am cleared and I press "0". The van rolls forward as I drive slowly, glancing to my left and right taking in the serene atmosphere.

Chickens are going about their business, pecking the ground for insects.  Goats are doing their thing and there is even a donkey, a guardian to the other animals. I continue on and there they are. Those big beauties with the chocolate brown eyes. I slow some more and wave as one pauses from her snack to glance at me. "Hi, Mrs. Cow". I try not to stare at her big udders but I know what they provide. Milk. Fresh, smooth and creamy, milk.  The cows are out there chewing on grass and roaming around on the farm. Just as it should be. I sigh in contentment and pull up to the Parlor.

Time to make my weekly exchange.  I drop off my empty Ball jars in my designated slot on the shelf. It even has my name on it.  I walk over to the refrigerator case and pull out two jars filled with milk.  Then I sign off that I completed my pick up and away I go.

Cream on the top, just as it should be
Do you have any famers local to You? It would seem that more and more people are looking beyond their grocery stores for additional food choices. I enjoy venturing out and meeting others in our community just as much as the fresh sustenance they offer.  There is so much knowledge available to us from those right in our own backyards, so to speak. Let's get out there and meet people!

*Dairy, Dairy, Dairy why are you so contrary??*

Diary is a food commodity that I have struggled with over the last several years. To consume or not to consume. Research has taken me on a wild ride of choosing organic milk from the grocery store to soy then almond milk. I already know that a better choice would be raw goat's milk, but that is expensive and harder to come by. Back to the drawing board. I will not tell anyone what they should do about their dairy choices, save to take the time to do your own research.  There is just far too much information, controversy and risks involved, seemingly, no matter which route you choose. Unless you decide to cut out dairy altogether. We love cheese. Kids like cereal from time to time. Cookies and milk - YES!

I would like to further my research on all the options yet again. For now (cause it could change), my family only consumes one gallon a week between the six of us and half of it goes towards making yogurt and some baking. I will leave you with a few posts I "enjoyed". Warning: reading them, along with the reader's comments, may cause you to want to throw your hands in the air and cut out dairy altogether. lol.

*Education Is Liberation*

Great and informative chart:

GMOs in Dairy? 

These are a somewhat timely to read but will give you further education on genetically modified organisms and how dairy is involved.

What dairy choices has you and/or your family made? Do you have a favorite farm you would like to share about?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Variety Feature: She is Going on a Cruise!

Nope. It's not me. Wahhhh!

Maybe when our children are grown and gone. Or maybe we can begin plans to farm out all these cuties. Any takers? Well, one can try, right?

In the meantime, my dear mother, Jeanne, is going on a cruise. Hey wait! Shouldn't she be a kid-taker?? Sorry, I digress.  As I was saying, she and her hubby are about to depart for a week long cruise and I was enlisted to help pick out a few additions to her wardrobe, including swim wear. With her permission, I am going to share most of our adventure, leaving the swim wear out. :)

First things first. Travel wear. She wants to be comfortable on her route there and being that it is still somewhat chilly around here and to keep within her budget, we opted to work with a pair of blue jeans and a shirt that she already has. Here is the before picture.

Jeanne, Mother of 4, Grandmother of 9

Roll up the pant legs and add some jewelry!
After our shopping trip, we changed up the sandals, added a few accessories and came up with this...
Nine West sandals found at Nordstrom Rack

Obviously this is not a dramatic change, but I've learned that those little details can make a big difference in achieving a "completed" look.  That is my objective. To look put-together and feel good in my own shoes, literally and figuratively, while working with what I have and maintaining our budget. I look to the fashion pros for inspiration but keep my wallet and priorities in check by reminding myself that I don't need to have all the latest trends to be stylish. There are bigger things going on around me. :)

Tidbit: Nude colored sandals/shoes can open a lot of options for your wardrobe. They go great with primary colors, whites, jeans etc.  If you prefer comfort over fashion than try investing in a good pair of casual, yet attractive shoes, even if it means you have to save up for awhile. Surprisingly, there are quite a few options when it comes to combining style and comfort.

Well, mom and I spent most of our time in Nordstrom Rack, which is where we also scored these Michael Kors White Jeans for around $25, along with a black tank to get her started on a suitable ensemble for dinner wear. The possibilities seem to be endless with a pair of white pants!

Having fun in the dressing room

***Has this ever happened to you??***

Arms heavy laden with various shirts and pants, we tromped into the ladies' dressing room at Nordstrom Rack. Rows of curtained cubicles lined our path, but one room stood out above the rest. It's curtains were wide open and the three-way mirror accompanied with pedestal, beckoned clothing hunters to come forth. The room was un-occupied so we entered and closed the curtains with gleeful triumph.  I could hang in the room and take pictures of the different outfits mom liked. This was going to great.

The process of elimination began and soon we had piles  of "to keep" and "to put back" started. Then as mom began trying on yet another shirt we felt a sudden gust of air as the curtains flapped open. Two women, with a young girl trailing behind entered to join our changing party.  They did not pause, say excuse me, or even acknowledge that we were there but settled into another corner of the room and proceeded to disrobe. I choked back my laughter and held my smirk tightly at bay because I was surrounded by mirrors and didn't want to let on that I was perplexed.  Mustn't look at mom. Mustn't look at mom.  Meanwhile, my eyes are searching around the room, save for that corner, for a sign that said, "Shared Dressing Room" or "Dressing Room is for Multiple Parties".  There wasn't one.  Oh well, we were all ladies. My mom went on with business as usual. However, it did moves us along faster and gave us a good laugh once we were out of earshot.  Has this ever happened to you??


Lastly, I wanted to share a picture of the outfit we chose for one of her formal dinners on the cruise.  

We both agreed this ensemble was very flattering!
Formal Wear...Very Pretty
TJMaxx was our other hot spot, where we found some bathing suits and capris but the best thing we walked away with was time spent together and more good memories!

So tell me my wonderful readers, have you been on a cruise? Do you have any tips for packing the right outfits to share?? Perhaps my hubby and I will go on one sooner than I think. :)

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