Archive for January, 2011

Fun Food Fridays: Chinese Steak Skewers

Chinese Steak Skewer


  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetables for grilling

Cooking instructions:

Slice steak against the grain into pieces about 1 inch thick; cut pieces crosswise into 5″ strips. (They should be about the size of a hot dog.)

Mix soy sauce, garlic, sugar and salt. Soak the meat strips in this marinade for 30 minutes or longer. Cook on campfire grill about 4″ from hot coals 45 minutes on each side, until done. It can also be cooked on a skewer.

I recommend having veggie skewers and meat skewers since the meat will take longer. Serve fajita style with rice.

Tip: The meat can be prepared at home and left soaking in the marinade until ready to cook. This is a great recipe to prepare at home and cook at the campground. Can also be cooked over a propane tabletop barbeque.

Find Your Geocache: New Clothing Designs

I LOVE creating new designs for my CafePress shop. And even though I sell a lot of my “princess” designs, I try to keep a nice mix of things that are woman-oriented vs. stuff anybody can wear. Here are 3 new geocaching designs!

I'm Doing The Drunken BeeDon’t Mind Me… I’m Doing the Drunken Bee

Show Me The CacheShow Me The Cache

Druken Bee StepsI know all the steps to the drunken bee dance!

Shhh… Don’t tell, but my boyfriend, Greg, is a drunken bee EXPERT. And he’s the inspiration for those tees.

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s cold, windy, and wet across the country right now. (Or if you live in Arizona, it’s cool, knock-you-down-wind, and sunny!) No matter what your weather trend might be at the moment, winter can be doing a number on all those outdoor-loving folks out there. Here are 5 tips that will help you take a vacation from the winter blues!

5. Have a Picnic

In your living room! Break out all your favorite picnic fare and spread out a blanket in your living room. The rules are simple: no running to the kitchen for napkins or more ketchup. For an extra boost, have your picnic as close to a window as possible and surround yourself with houseplants.


Extra bonus: No bugs to share your lunch!

4. Learn Your Winter Constellations

You know your way around the summer sky like nobody’s business, but winter stars? Yeah right! Take some time to learn winter constellations. Even if it’s too cold to go stargazing outside, you can always drive to a dark spot and sit toasty warm in the car to view the stars. Just be sure to not get vehicle exhaust in the car with you!


Extra bonus: Impress your kids with stories of the constellations.

3. BBQ

The next nice afternoon, break out the barbeque (tabletop or full-size) and grill up some summer favorites: hotdogs, hamburgers, or kabobs. For the full camping-feeling, eat everything off paper plates and plastic spoons.


Extra bonus: Eat a popsicle for dessert!

2. Tell Scary Stories

Gather up some flashlights and wrap up in blankets! Then swap scary tales as if you were alongside a campfire. Not sure of which stories to share? Check out the eBook: Campfire Tales from the Chill to the Giggle. It has 15 stories that run from chilling to funny and are perfect for any audience.

Scary Story

Extra bonus: Have the whole family camp-out in the living room.

1. Start Planning Your Summer Vacation Now is a great resource to start planning your next trip. If you want to some other tips, do a web search for your state’s tourism bureau and then request their travel guide. From there, you can order information from state parks, National Forests, National Parks and more.

Extra bonus: Instead of waiting (and stressing) in a the few weeks before your trip, you can have weeks of happy anticipation for that first outdoor adventure of spring!

Fun Food Fridays: Fajitas


At home, cut strips from either steak or boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Prepare marinade from the following ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup tequila
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Mix marinade ingredients in a bowl, then pour into a strong, zippered bag along with chicken or steak strips. Refrigerate.

Slice into strips some onion, green and/or red bell peppers, and any other veggies you want (mushrooms, carrots, etc.) Put these in another zippered bag and refrigerate.

When ready to leave for your trip, put both bags in an ice chest or RV refrigerator.

When it’s dinnertime, heat a large skillet over a camp stove. Dump in the chicken or beef strips and marinade. Cook and stir over medium-high to high heat until almost done. Add veggies and cook all until veggies are cooked as much as you want and meat is fully cooked.

Put into warmed flour tortillas. Add whatever you want shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, avocado, olives, etc.

Pitch Your Tent: Bandanas

Bandanas – The Perfect Camping Accessory

Bandanas aren’t just for pirates or Harley riders! They are the perfect camping accessory, especially if you are camping with kids.


Here’s 19 reasons why I love them:

  1. They’re light and don’t take up much room
  2. You can wash them each night and they’ll be dry by morning
  3. Use them to wash grubby faces and hands
  4. Cover messy hair (especially when you decide to go out to eat!)bandana covering hair
  5. Mop up spills
  6. Bandanas are perfect for using as a hanky.
  7. They can be a bandage
  8. Tie it in a triangle and use as a sling for an arm
  9. Tie a red or orange bandana to your car’s antenna to signal for help in an emergency
  10. Get it wet and tie it around your head or neck to cool off
  11. As a puppy fashion statementPuppy Bandana
  12. Tie over your nose and mouth to keep out dust
  13. Use it as a belt (maybe if your waist is tiny or for your kid!)
  14. Cut it up and patch tears in your jeans
  15. Tie it to your daypack so you can find your pack when you put it down under a tree
  16. Make a bundle and tie it to the end of a stick (pretend you’re running away from home!)
  17. Make like a cowboy and tie it around your neck
  18. Get one with Insect Shield and keep away the bugs (Don’t believe me? See my product review!)
  19. Three words: Cops & Robbers

So go ahead: Play Pirate!

Readers Weigh In:

  • What are your favorite uses for bandanas?

Find Your Geocache: Guest Author

GEO*Trailblazer 1 & the Secret Service

A few weeks ago, I was asking my Facebook friends for some help coming up with ideas for the blog. GEO*Trailblazer 1 said that I should be stopped and questioned by the Secret Service and then write about it. But, since HE’S had that experience, I thought it would just be easier to ask him to share his story with us.

Here’s the story of meeting the Secret Service while out geocaching. Now THAT’S hard-core!

Secret Service Agent

Let’s turn on the Way Back Machine, which by the way you Ole Time Cachers will remember. Back to a time when Geocaching did not exist and SA did, that’s “Selective Availability” for those of you who do not know.

I guess you could say I was the techie for the time and did not know it. I was learning and teaching GPS. I was more into Benchmarks due to the fact it was one of the ways around SA by knowing the error for the day from known coordinates (Benchmark).

A good friend told me I would like this new game called Geocaching and he gave me the web site. Not having a computer made it hard for about the first year and there were no cables or any way to hook a GPS to a computer (my, things have changed!) At that time, you relied on entering each point by hand OH and my GPS then only has 2 decimal points (Benchmark second part Triangulation) used to find GZ (geocache, benchmark).

Now you are wondering what all this has to do with meeting the Secret Service while Geocaching.

It would take a novel to write all the things I (we) were involved in and around this time.

The reason for our visit (GEO*Trailblazer 1 & Tiggr) was a Lewis and Clark Mission 200th Anniversary. We walked in the footsteps of our forefathers 200 years to the day in many places as they did (back to novel).

Our Mission were Geocaches and Benchmarks:

This is where the fun started as we were walking the Ellipse and making tracks. We rounded the corner to the Washington Monument of the ZERO MILESTONE and were getting the required clues.

Compass Rose

I set my GPS at the Benchmark in the Center of the Compass Rose of the Washington Monument and was turning to talk to Tiggr when I noticed 5 little red dots in my heart area.

From my experience I know what this is and I look up and see a Secret Service Agent coming at me saying. “Sir what are you doing?”

Without hesitation I said in a loud voice: “GEOCACHING!”

I would give a million dollars to have a picture of his face at that very moment he was awed yet had to continue with his duties.

Tiggr was saying the whole time this was going on, “I told you that you were going to get us in trouble with that thing.”

But I took advantage of the situation even while going through a complete shakedown; I am a Warrior and can keep a cool head even under pressure and got to explain all about Geocaching.

After he was satisfied he asked for my ID at which point I gave him my ID and USA Freedom Corps ID and he disappeared.

A few minutes later he returned gave me back my ID and said to have a great tour of the City.

By the way, we were there and had a full run of the city with hardly any people as the City had been evacuated due to a storm approaching.

When we got home I found out the reason for the shakedown…The Original 100 Documents of the Founding of our Nation were being put on display at the very time we were out front playing on the White House Lawn.

(Back to the novel)

We also visited Philadelphia, Plymouth Rock and some very historic Benchmarks on that trip. Hmmm, maybe I really should write a novel as I have just touched the surface of the deep and wide adventures I have made while geocaching.

Readers Weigh In:

  • Have you ever had an exciting encounter with law enforcement while out caching?
  • If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact me and I’ll feature YOU as a guest author!

Site-Wide Updates Coming Soon!

In case you tried to access my blog(s) last week, you’ll have discovered that they were up and down and working and broken all week.

Okay, so they were mostly DOWN and BROKEN, but I’m trying to spin it!

After a TON of frustration, a 3 hour phone call to tech support, installing and uninstalling WordPress about a dozen times, we are FINALLY back up and running. Yeah! And while I wish that I hadn’t had to do it, at least it happened in early January instead of mid-March when I’d be so busy working in the tax office that I could hardly breathe!

I also wanted to take a moment and give you a run-down on some changes that will be heading your way for and the blogs:,,, &

What’s Been Changed So Far:

  • All new URLs for There was no way around it, unfortunately. With the break and the fix, all the permalinks are different. Please update any bookmarks you may have had.
  • New look for! In the past, this was an “Arizona camping” site as well as the blog. Now, it’s just the blog and is on the main index of (All the old links work!)
  • I’ve changed email newsletter mailing services to MailChimp.

What’s Coming Up

  • New blog at
  • New newsletter for kayaking. (Send me your ideas for both!)
  • Updated look for

That updated look for is what I’m REALLY excited about. Sometime this week, you’ll get a sneak peak with some minor changes and then in the coming weeks…

Well, let’s just say that a visual overhaul has been a long time coming!

In other news, I just wanted to remind everybody that I work full-time in my dad’s tax practice. So from now until April 18th, I might be bit slow(er) at answering emails and getting posts up. But it’ll happen!

Fun Food Fridays: Walking Tacos

Here’s another recipe Jacque shared with me. It’s a favorite in her family when they go camping.


  • 1 personal-sized bag of Fritos
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cups canned chili (with or without beans)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped onions
  • Salsa
  • Sour Cream

Heat chili, and pour into open bag of Fritos. Then complete with your choice of toppings! Grab a spork and go!

This can also be made my cooking ground hamburger with your choice of taco seasonings or salsa and substituting for the canned chili.

Jacque Gilbert

Chino Valley, Arizona

Fun Food Fridays: Beanie Weenie Casserole

On 7/2/10 I shared the recipe for “Royal” Family Beanie Weenies. In that, I mentioned Beanie Weenie Casserole which had been shared with me by Jacque Gilbert. (Jacque used to work for me!)

And, in looking through, I realized that I never actually shared HER recipe. So here it is!


  • 2 15oz. cans of baked beans. (I like Bush’s original)
  • 2-3 hot dogs, sliced and cooked
  • 1 small sized bag of frozen tater tots
  • 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Combine beans and hot dogs in a 2 qt. casserole dish and spread evenly. Place as many tater tots as will fit in a single layer on top of bean mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until tots are golden brown. Top with cheese and bake until melted.

Jacque Gilbert

Chino Valley, Arizona

Pitch Your Tent: Buying an RV

Buying An RV: 5 Tips

I wanted to introduce you to the newest member of the “Royal” Family:

Coleman Taos Tent Trailer

"Skippy" is covered in snow at the moment and I couldn't open him up to get a photo. A "portrait" is the best I could do.

My new (to me) Coleman tent trailer! (I think I’m going to call him Skippy.)

This is a 1996 Coleman Taos. That’s the smallest tent trailer that Coleman made. In the course of finding and then buying the trailer, I kept a mental list of tips to help keep you sane through the buying process.

This list is very different from the article I published a few months ago: Top 10 Tent Trailer Tips

1. Figure out how you want to use the RV

This is really important so don’t make the mistake of meeting with a salesman first! You’ll want to really think about what you’re looking for before you go to an RV dealership and have some well-meaning salesperson talk you into an RV that isn’t right for your family.

Some things to think about are:

  • Do I want to cook inside or outside?
  • How big of a stove do I want?
  • How many people will I need to sleep? (Keep kids, friends, and pets in mind!)
  • How big of a potable water tank do I want?
  • Do I want a shower?
  • Do I want a toilet? Could I get by with a removable canister toilet or does it need to be built in?
  • Oven? Fridge? Microwave? TV?

2. Decide how big of an RV that you want to handle

For me, little was better. I have a tiny truck and I’m not comfortable with the idea of pulling a big hard-side trailer. And when I was thinking of size, it wasn’t just the physical size of the trailer (although I did think about that) but it was also the towing capacity of my vehicle.

My folks missed this critical step when they bought their last RV! The Queen Mother found the PERFECT trailer, ESP Boss bought it for her, and then they realized that the truck couldn’t really pull the trailer! It was getting 6 miles to the gallon and the engine was laboring up even mild grades.

Since they’re in love with the trailer, they bought a new truck!

3. Visit an RV dealership or RV show

The bigger the better on this one! It’s not that you’re ready to buy, it’s that you’re ready to do some nitty gritty research. Go armed with the specs on your tow vehicle and your list of how you’ll use the RV.

Then, spend time getting the feel of the various sizes and models. Your vehicle might be able to PULL a monster trailer but do you want to CAMP in one? You might find a feature that you simply can’t live without.

One of the things I always look at is the arrangement of seating at the table versus getting into a bed. Especially in tent trailers, it’s common to have to step ONTO the bench at the dinette to climb into a bed. For me, I hate that since I don’t want to break down the bench’s padding with my foot and I don’t want to put my muddy boot where I’ll be sitting to eat later!

4. Decide the maximum amount you want to spend

Now that you’re armed with ideas, decide your budget. This one can be kind of tricky. You might have a number in mind and then start shopping and realize that you can’t get all the features you really want in your price range.

I ended up spending more than I originally wanted to, but the trailer turned out to be a SCREAMING deal so I was okay with it.

5. Start shopping!

Visit dealerships, used car lots, and bankruptcy trustee sales (that’s where I found mine.) Also keep an eye on your local newspaper’s classified ads, Craigslist, and eBay. Once you find a trailer you want, do some research to find out what it’s selling for.

I started by going to NADA Guides to take a look at the “blue book” offering for my trailer. Then I looked at the same MODEL of trailer (Coleman Taos) across a 4-year window (1994-1998). I used that to get an idea for the high and low asking prices for a comparable trailer.

It’s really important to keep in mind three things when you’re looking for comparable trailers:

  1. Size
  2. Year
  3. Condition

If you can’t find the perfect RV right away, don’t despair. Just keep looking. I also recommend talking to your friends and family about what you’re looking for; you never know when they might hear of the perfect RV for you.

The Story of “Skippy”

ESP Boss & I were heading to the store to buy more Christmas lights for the outside of his house when we passed a bankruptcy trustee sales lot that had a GREAT little tent trailer offered. We went back the following week and got to meet the trustee and take a look at the trailer. It was in GREAT condition.

The asking price was $2,000 which was more than I wanted to pay (Step 4). But, the trailer had all the features and amenities that I wanted (Step 1-3) so I put in an offer (Step 5). I offered him $700 which was above NADA but the trailer was in great condition. (And I REALLY wanted it!)

There was a counter offer so I had to raise my bid. At the date of the sale, I was the highest offer and the trailer was mine for $1,700. I think all parties were happy: I got a deal (comparable trailers had been selling from $2,200 to $2,500) and the trustee got $1,000 more than my original offer.

And I’ll be spending my Christmas money getting ready for my first spring camping trip!

Readers Weigh In:

  • Have you ever purchased an RV? How was the process?
  • Have you ever had to upgrade a vehicle to pull your new RV?
  • Or downgrade your RV to match the towing capacity of your vehicle?

When I announced on Facebook that I’d purchased a tent trailer I had a ton of friends comment about happy tent-trailer camping memories. Do you have any to share?

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