Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Camping Tip Tuesday- 10 Tips to Make Your Camping Trip Rock

Howdy, folks, and welcome to Camping Tip Tuesday! (insert big cheesy grin and redneck accent here) How ya'll doin' today?

Let's talk about ways to make your life easier while camping.  Shall we?
Camping Tip 1. First of all, SIMPLIFY. Let me say it again. SIMPLIFY. I know it's fun to bring everything including the kitchen sink (ha ha ha), because "We might need this". I know. Been there, done that, brought 32 pairs of flip flops camping. (Yes. I did. 32. And that doesn't include the sneakers, or water shoes, or slippers.)

And I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggesting you come camping with a tent, sleeping bag, and a toothbrush. If that's your cup of tea, my hat's off to you! I like camping with all the comforts of home. But there are some times you can get a little too carried away. We're trying to get AWAY from home, remember?? 

You probably don't need 7 blankets per person (um, again, true story), unless you're camping in Alaska. And, even then, that's probably a bit excessive!

Camping Tip 2. Before you pack it, ask yourself- Is this making my life easier, or harder???

Camping Tip 3. Now, there are, in fact, some seemingly over the top items that are actually quite useful for camping. 
  • A toaster oven. Okay, I know I just told you to simplify. Hear me out. During the summertime, using the big RV oven can seriously heat up a small camper. We store ours in the cabinet under the stove and just open the door to the compartment when the toaster oven is on.If you're tent camping, a toaster oven provides a way to cook other than the campfire. 
  • Bird feeders. You know, the small kind you can hang from a branch. We enjoy so much watching the birds come eat. We try to identify them and imitate their calls using apps. Great fun, I tell you!
  • Over the door hangers with pockets. We use them to store all kinds of small items like jewelry, batteries, etc. 
Camping Tip 4. Utilize every inch of available storage. Milk crates fit perfectly in the underbed storage area and help keep the area organized. We can actually find things under the bed now!

Camping Tip 5. Again, utilize every inch of storage space. Your RV may be different, but our RV has some great usable space above the window valence boxes. It's perfect for storing pill bottles, spices, paper towels, etc. (not during transit, of course). 

Camping Tip 6. Always bring an Easy-Up (or whatever you call a canopy tent). Put it up above the picnic table. In case it rains, you've still got a place to sit around outside and play games, etc. 

Camping Tip 7. Christmas lights make great campsite lights. You can hang them on the awning, wrap 'em around trees, etc. Icicle lights in particular are beautiful. 

Camping Tip 8. Plan your meals before you go, and bring all ingredients, including special spices. Do any prep work you can beforehand. I find it freeing to look at my list and go, "It's Tuesday, we're having hot dogs" than to have to figure out what everyone wants for dinner and what I feel like cooking. Even fulltiming it, having a meal plan takes one thing off my plate, so to speak. 

Camping Tip 9. Reservations, reservations, reservations. Many popular campgrounds will fill up, especially on weekends and holdiays. Check policies for your capground to see if they accept or need reservations. There's nothing worse than packing up all your stuff, being excited to camp, and finding out there's no room in the inn.

Camping Tip 10. Have fun! Plan some new, fun, family activities for your trip! Make Biscuits on a Stick or Smores in a Cone over the campfire. Grab some paper and make Sun Prints or hit the sidewalk for some Fizzy Sidewalk Chalk Paint.  Better yet, play Sardines! No matter what, just have fun!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Family Fun Friday- Water Bottle Bubble Blower- Just right for Earth Day

Looking for an Earth Day Craft? Trying to find a fun, family activity for your next camping trip that's also frugal, and uses recycled materials? Well, this fits the bill! Make a water bottle bubble blower!

You will need:
bubble solution
an empty water bottle
an old sock

Cut the bottom off an empty water bottle. Insert the cut off end into a sock (you may need to trim the scok first, depending on the size.) Remove the lid, dip the sock into the bubble solution, and blow!
Presto- magical bubble snakes!

The best thing about this craft is that pretty much anyone will have water bottles and socks while camping. When the kiddos get bored (HOW does that happen while kids are camping? I mean, seriously, they're outside! Sticks, mud, bugs, nature.... ), grab some dish soap if you don't have bubble solution, and blow away! (It's okay! Dish soap actually makes way more bubbles than regular bubble solution, and I know you've got that in your camping supplies!)

Happy bubble blowing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Get a FREE you@wedratherbecamping.com email address!

Okay, so we're probably a little too excited about having out own domain name! But, hey, small victories are babysteps in the right direction. Right??

Along with the new domain name, we have decided to offer our readers (that's YOU!) a free email address @wedratherbecamping.com

Yes, I know- you already have an email address. Who doesn't? I like to have a separate email address for signing up for coupons or free offers. Maybe this would work for you. I also like to have multiple email addresses in case a website is offering a good deal, limited to one per email address (Netflix free trials and  cardstore.com free cards are favorites). Just a thought!

Is your name Bob? Bob Camper? Well, you can be bobcamper@wedratherbecamping.com!
Or, if you'd like, your new email address can be ilovecamping@wedratherbecamping.com.
And the best part (other than having the most awesome email address ever, that is) is that it's free!

If you're interested, you can click the box at the top right of the page to sign up and to check your email!

Monday, April 15, 2013

We'd Rather be Camping Bucket Light

Yay! We've been working on establishing a business to fund the dream. We've come up with and trademarked several designs, and are excited to report we've made our first sale- a camping bucket light with our trademarked "We'd Rather Be Camping" slogan!

We've had a lot of interest in the past few days on purchasing these bucket lights, so we've opened a storefront to sell them.

Wondering what a camping bucket light is? Simply the coolest outdoor lighting there is! Our camping bucket lights are made of a 5 gallon bucket and bear our We'd Rather Be Camping slogan with either a tent, travel trailer, or RV. They are durable, waterproof, and unique- not the same old globe lights that you see at every campsite!

Check out our shop, and let us know what you think! Many more items in the "We'd Rather Be Camping" line are in the works!

Friday, April 12, 2013

377 Days in a Camper

Wow! Today marks our 377th night in our camper! Almost exactly a year ago, Brian and I were taking a walk, talking about how camping had completely revitalized our family. Hesitatingly, I brought up an idea that had been plaguing me for days, one that I felt drawn toward. I'm pretty sure I probably said something like, "You're probably gonna think this is completely crazy, but...."

The crazy thing turned out to be when Brian told me he'd been thinking about the same thing for several days. We both felt it was placed upon our hearts- this huge tug to do this crazy, completely nontraditional, people are gonna think we've lost our marbles, thing- pack up and hit the road in our camper, living full-time in an RV and traveling the US with our babies before they get too old. And thus The Dream was born.

It's been a crazy, chaotic, sort of downer of a time lately. We've felt stalled, stuck, like we're getting nowhere with our dream. We've been questioning ourselves-
"Is this really doable? Can we live full time in a camper?"
"Will this ever work out for us?"
"Is this really what God wants us to do?"
"What can we do to help us hit the road?"
"Does anyone read the blog? Do they care if we post or not?"
"What can we do to engage more of our audience?"
"Are we crazy?" (Dear readers, do you ever feel this way???)

Sometimes it's so easy to look at how much farther you have to go, rather than turning around to see how far you've come.  I guess it's the glass half empty kind of thing. Tonight, instead of staring ahead into that seemingly insurmountable abyss that represents our dream and how far away from it we are, we turned around.


We looked behind us to see how far we've come in those 377 days since we last slept in our sticks and bricks home. And, wow! We've come a long way, baby! In 377 days, we've....

  • Sucessfully roadschooled one child, and will be adding the second to our own BCCS (Beasley Camping Charter School)
  • Secured two campground hosting positions, each for 1/2 of the year. 
  • Started this blog
  • Started a Facebook Page
  • Started a Pinterest Page
  • Been featured in an advertising campaign on Jayco's Facebook Page about camping memories
  • Been contacted by a producer of a new television show about potentially appearing on TV
  • Been featured in a local newspaper article about our campground
  • Been interviewed for an upcoming article about roadschooling in Cobblestone Magazine
  • Happily lived together in a 31 by 8 foot camper and adapted to thriving in such a small spacce
  • Met dozens of new friends in the campground
  • Started writing an ebook on family camping activities
  • Adopted a completely different lifestyle- one that's certainly not for everyone- but that feels right for us
campingHave we achieved our dream yet? No. We're still working on the sponsorship or money-making on the road details that will allow us to pull up roots and travel the US with our kiddos. Are we a whole lot closer? You betcha!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Camping has made us Famous!

Well, almost!

We're currently featured on Jayco RV's Facebook page as part of their Memories that Matter advertising campaign! Yay! National exposure! Check it out here!
Look! That's my photo and my daughter on Jayco's facebook page!
There are a few inaccuracies that I tried to correct in my comments, but that's okay.... (I do have a dear husband named Brian who, for some reason, is not mentioned at all. Bless his heart! {Love you babe!} We have a travel trailer, not a 5th wheel {boy, do I wish- that would equal more room!}And we spend six months camping, not just weekends. {If we can find a hosting job for the other six months, we'd do it full-time.} But all in all, it's a nice article!)

We've also been speaking to a TV producer for Bravo about possibly being on a new reality show highlighting different parenting styles. I'm not sure if we're TV material, but it sure is exciting to be considered! Look out Hollywood, here come the Beasleys!

We're being featured in an upcoming Cobblestone Magazine feature on Roadschooling, and we also have an article coming up next week in our local newspaper.

It's nice to get a little attention. Sometimes I feel like I'm writing to myself!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

How Much Stuff Can Fit in a 31 by 8 Foot Jayco Travel Trailer??

Warning: Messiness ahead! If you are a neat freak (I so wish I was), please stop reading. What you are about to see is likely to offend you.

Still with me? OK. Don't say I needn't warn you! Now, please understand. We're not messy people, per se. We're not dirty, nasty folks. We keep a clean camper. But we seem to accumulate a lot of stuff.

We're starting our new hosting gig in 13 days-YAY! Remember, we've been full-time RV-ing in the front yard for about 5 months now. And we've been in the camper for 11 months straight! We decided it was time to take everything out of our Jayco, clean it top to bottom, and then reevaluate what we really need to put back in the camper. Everything needs a good overhaul in the organization department. We have two desktop computers for roadschooling we need to incorporate somewhere, and a billion other things we need.

So, we have literally taken everything out of the camper that wasn't nailed down. It took.... are you ready for this?....
70 trips (between all four of us)

Yes, you read that right. Seventy loads of stuff.

 This is embarrassing.... but have a look... Don't worry, we will organize it. But for now, we just wanted it out!

The "junk drawer". Jayco owners' manuals, 22 candles, an air horn...

 Yes, you see a spice rack and 38 plastic bags.
Food- that's OK, right???
 17 notebooks, umpteen cable wires, ....
 Enough play dough to stock a daycare, bubbles, ice cream churns (yes, two!)
Everybody needs a giant TV box and straws in their camper, right?

 Literally 28 blankets for four people
 A two foot tall bag of toiletries

Enough clothes for an entire daycare
 18 pillows

 Hey, this one is a must have....our 4 inch memory foam mattress topper!
75 plus DVDs.

Some of the stuff I can't believe was even in there.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Melted Crayon Heart Valentines Free Printables

Melted Heart Crayons

Free Printable Valentines

We love making things out of melted crayons around here. There's just something nifty about turning old, broken, stubby, no good crayons into a new swirly looking masterpiece!

Got broken junky old crayons? Great. Then you've got the makings of some awesome, one of a kind Valentines that are way cooler than the boxed kind you buy at Walmart!

Making these Valentines is simple and fun. You will need:
old crayons
a silicone heart shaped pan (it's only going to be good for making crayons from now on, so be forewarned)
an old cookie sheet or metal pan (ditto)
glitter (optional)

Step 1: Use an exacto knife to slit the wrappers of the crayons.
Step 2: Peel the labels off the crayons.
Step 3: Break the crayons into small pieces.
Step 4: Fill your heart molds with crayons.
Step 5: Put silicon pan on baking sheet.
Step 6: Bake at 250 in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until melted.
Step 7: Add more crayon bits and some glitter.
Step 8: Bake another 5-10 minutes, or until melted.
Step 9: Remove from the oven and let cool.
Step 10: Pop hearts out of mold.

Step 11: Use double sided tape to affix crayons to these printable Valentines. There are four different designs. (Don't worry; I took off Madison's name so your sweeties can write their own!)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Science Saturday: Magic Inflating Balloon

Welcome back to Science Saturday! We've got a great science activity to share with you today- the magic inflating balloon! The great thing about this science demonstration is it's easy, frugal, and only requires materials that most everybody has on hand at their home or camper! Oh, and then there's the major WOW factor, too! That's pretty nice also!

We've been studying states of matter and chemical and physical changes in our roadschooling lessons. This experiment fits the bill for both topics. Not only is it an opportunity to explore changes in the state of matter and view a real, live chemical reaction, but it's also an amazing thing to see! We've used this demonstration in classrooms as part of a Science Fun Day, at a Mad Scientist birthday party, and around the campsite just for funsies!

Before you read any farther, we must make you aware of our disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: If you perform this experiment at your campsite, or other science activities like the Floating S Skittles, Ice Cube Sailboats, Glue Hands, or Fizzy Sidewalk Chalk Paint, be prepared for all the kiddos in the campground to flock to your campsite. As long as you don't mind your campsite being "the" place to be for all the campground kids (we don't), proceed at your own risk!

To make a ballon magically inflate, you will need: an empty water or soda bottle, vinegar, baking soda, a funnel, and a balloon. 
  • For a 20 oz. bottle, pour about 1/2 cup vinegar into your bottle. (Don't use the funnel for this! If you do, wash and completely dry it before proceeding.) If your bottle is bigger or smaller, you may have to adjust amounts a little. Experiment- it's science!
  • Insert the funnel into the balloon. 
  • Pour about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda into the funnel. 
  • Remove the funnel and shake all the baking soda down into the bottom of the balloon. 
  • Stretch the neck of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. 
  • Hold onto the end of the balloon to keep the baking soda from falling into the bottle until you are ready. 
  • Lift the balloon up and let the baking soda fall into the bottle. 
  • Step back, and watch the magic!

  The kids were so amazed, we had to do it again!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Family Fun Friday- Pictionary and Hot Steaming Bread

Well, you've heard about our Family Fun Friday Grilled Pizzas, but you haven't heard about how we spent the rest of the evening having fun as a family. It was a rather impromptu suggestion by the kiddos that turned into hours of the most fun I've had in a while. And also, I'm afraid, has given my dear family something to tease me about for months!

We are fans of The Big Bang Theory show. I'm pretty sure that's where the kiddos came up with the idea of Pictionary.  Rather than making up ideas to draw (we were afraid they might get a little too "out there"), we found a great website called The Game Gal that has printable lists of words for Pictionary, charades, etc. She's got a lot of other great games as well. I can't wait to spend some more time on her site for some more Family Fun Friday ideas!

Honestly, we weren't expecting Pictionary to be as much fun as it was. It was one of those, "Ok, we'll play a few rounds." kinda things. Boy, were we wrong! My stomach still hurts from all the laughing!

We played Adults vs Kids. I thought us adults would have an unfair advantage. Ahem. Not so much. So, um, I got bread. Figured that right out. And an oven. Got that. Brian even took pity on me and talked, which is kinda against the rules. "It goes in the oven as bread. It comes out as?"

What's your answer?? It goes in the oven as bread and comes out as_____________.
My answer: "Hot steaming bread"

The correct answer: Toast. Of course! Toast! Bread plus oven = toast. You put bread in the oven, it gets toasted. Hanging my head in shame.

So, for the rest of the night, everyone's first guess? "Hot steaming bread"
I will never live this one down. It will be like the Candied Chicken recipe I tried like a bazillion years ago and STILL get teased about. I will be an old lady on my deathbed hearing "hot steaming bread" and "candied chicken".

Here's a picture for you. Can you figure it out?

Cow plus ahem, boy. Get it??? Adolescent boys are something else, I tell you!

Anyway, disturbing images aside, if you are looking for a free Family Fun Friday game, try Pictionary! Laughs guaranteed! With a little preparation, Pictionary would make an awesome camping game as well.
Carry a small dry erase board in your camper (we have one hanging on the wall in the living room), print out the word list before you leave, or make them up as you go.

What are some classic games you like to play with your family?

Family Fun Friday: Easy, Quick, and Delicious Mini Grilled Pizzas

Grilled Pizzas- under $3 and under 30 minutes

Hey there folks! Welcome back to Family Fun Friday! We actually have two family fun activities to share tonight. The start to our evening was a favorite Friday evening tradition around here- Grilled Pizza. We also played a hilariously entertaining game, but I'll have to share that in the next post!

Wait a minute... you've never had grilled pizza??? You are seriously missing out on some major yumminess! And on a camping trip... OMG. The nature makes it taste even better!

Before I share the secret to grilled pizza with you, repeat after me: "Pizza doesn't have to be round. Pizza doesn't have to be round." These may not be the most attractive pizzas in the world. I probably won't make the cover of Food Magazine. But that's okay. These babies are awesome! What they lack in appearance, they make up for in taste- smoky, cheesy, herbed deliciousness.

To make pizza, of course you need dough. You can use whatever recipe you like, canned pizza dough, or even biscuits in a pinch. Here is my recipe for pizza dough. You can also use it for dinner rolls, breadsticks, etc.

Mix 1 T yeast in 1 C hot water. Pour into a large mixing bowl. Add 2 T vegetable oil, 2.5 C flour, 1 t sugar, 1 t salt, 1-3 T of Italian Seasoning or oregano, 1 t garlic powder and 1 t onion powder.  Of course, the spices are optional. You can vary according to your taste and your toppings. Our personal opinion is the spices MAKE the dough. Knead dough until it's smooth. The awesome thing about this dough is that it doesn't have to rise. Mix, knead, and go- 5 minutes!

Divide the dough into 6-8 portions and press/roll out dough onto an oiled pizza pan. Brush oil on top of the pizza dough. For grilled pizza, it's so much easier to make individual mini pizzas instead of trying to flip a large one on the grill. That also allows everyone to personalize their toppings.

Have everything ready to go before you put the dough on the grill. These pizzas cook pretty quickly.

Preheat your grill. Once grill is hot, place pizzas onto the grill, oil side down. Direct heat is fine, unless you notice your pizza is burning. Close the grill and let the dough cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom is browned, crispy, and has grill marks. When the dough is cooked on the bottom, flip the pizzas over. Add your pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese. Close the grill again and allow the pizzas to cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and gooey. If your crust is burning before the cheese is melted, move the pizzas to an upper rack or an indirect heat area.

I will warn you- plan to eat outside, standing beside the grill. We have NEVER made it to the table with these grilled pizzas (at least the first batch. This dough recipe makes seven or eight 4-6" pizzas.)

So, how, you ask, is this Family Fun Friday? Well, making Grilled Pizzas is a family affair! The kiddos beg to make them. One kid measures, mixes, and kneads the dough while the other kid browns the sausage, gathers the toppings, etc. Everybody helps put the pizzas and toppings on the grill. And everybody stands by the grill and salivates as they cook.

Know what? Not only does grilled pizza rock, but it costs less and cooks in the same amount of time (or less) as a frozen pizza. Tastes a million times better, too! From start to finish, you can make this grilled pizza in under 30 minutes. By my calculations, it cost maybe 75 cents for the dough, 75 cents for the cheese (1/2 a bag of shredded cheese), 33 cents for the spaghetti sauce (1/3 jar), and 44 cents for the sausage (1/2 lb.). Grand total: $2.27. You can't even buy a generic frozen pizza for that!

Our Family Fun Friday Grilled Pizzas were a hit, quick, and frugal. Under $3, under 30 minutes, family fun, and yummy to boot! This should be your next camping meal. I promise you won't be disappointed!
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